EDUCATION: Skeleton Key

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Science  26 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5666, pp. 1951
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5666.1951a

The skeleton might seem like inert scaffolding, but it bustles with activity. Busy cells are continually demolishing old bone and extruding replacement material. Students from high school to medical school can solidify their understanding of this dynamic tissue with a primer sponsored by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research in Washington, D.C. The tutorial covers topics from basic bone structure to the impact of hormones like testosterone and cortisol on the skeleton. Simple animations depict key processes, such as how osteoblasts and other cells help mend a fracture by weaving a mesh of collagen fibers that accumulates minerals. A fun feature on exercise illustrates why volleyball is better for the skeleton than hockey is—it triggers a bigger spike in bone density.

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