Education Technology

Counting cells and
crunching numbers

Engage your students in scientific procedures and
statistical analyses that are pointing researchers toward
a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes Research: Beta Cells and Box Plots, a free TI-Nspire™ simulation, takes your students into the lab to explore the STEM concepts that investigators at Sanford Research are using to evaluate potential cures for diabetes.

The activity introduces students to promising trials with drugs that may stimulate beta cell replication. Beta cells are located in the pancreas and produce insulin. In type 1 diabetics, the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone that enables all their bodies’ cells to extract glucose from the blood for energy. The disease can be managed, but there is no cure. Yet.

Simulating the methods the Sanford researchers follow, students test each of two hypothetical drugs using different wavelengths to fluorescently label beta cells then count the ones that are replicating.

TI-Nspire™ technology’s Lists & Spreadsheet and Data & Statistics dynamic applications enable students to visualize multiple representations of the data, graphs and box plots.

Designed in collaboration with Sanford Research, Diabetes Research: Beta Cells and Box Plots encourages students to explore STEM in a highly relevant, life-enriching perspective and inspire them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Explore the intersection of math and science with Diabetes Research: Beta Cells and Box Plots

Ideally suited for middle grades and high school math and science, this unique STEM Behind Health simulation promotes student engagement in essential concepts and practices, including:

  • Using measures of center and spread to analyze and compare two sets of data from an experimental treatment;
  • Graphing box plots to summarize and interpret data
  • Drawing conclusions using the median and interquartile range (IQR)

Katie Zucker has been a tireless advocate for raising public awareness about diabetes since appearing before a Congressional committee looking into funding for diabetes research — at age 13, just two years after she was diagnosed with the disease.

Now 27 and an executive at her family’s Hollywood film production company, she remains passionate about educating the public on the differences between type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disorder) and type 2.


She advocates on another front, as well: promoting the kind of research that is going on now at Sanford Research, where scientists and medical professionals are investigating potential cures for her condition.

Download free trial software

Try TI-Nspire™ for free and experience this engaging STEM Behind Health activity, as well as other TI-Nspire™ digital resources, by downloading a free trial of
TI-Nspire™ Teacher Software or
TI-Nspire Student Software
(available for Mac® and PC platforms).

Camille Parker, BS

The Sanford Projects, Sanford Research
Senior Lab Coordinator

Camille Parker decided early on to pursue a career in science, but it wasn’t until she worked in a lab in college that she discovered her goal — medical research.

“It was new, exciting, different every day. I was uncovering things that weren’t already known. I really like the inquiry of research and solving problems,” she says.

She earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees (microbiology, biology) at South Dakota State University and later joined Sanford Research as a research assistant in Savinov Lab, where her responsibilities included activities that are simulated in Diabetes Research: Beta Cells and Box Plots.


Now a senior lab coordinator at Sanford, Camille extends her enthusiasm for STEM education beyond the lab and into the classroom.

“I enjoy opportunities to volunteer with students. I tell them about the cool technology we work with, and how they can help people by solving the problems that affect their lives,” she says.

STEM Behind Health activities are designed to put students on paths to those careers by providing relevant, meaningful contexts for asking questions, analyzing and interpreting data, using math and computational thinking and constructing explanations.

“This activity is relevant. The math and science has real-world applications, and they help us understand ourselves,” Camille says.

Sanford and Sanford Research are trademarks of Sanford Health.