The class was part of Project Lead the Way, a hands-on program involving an innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education curriculum and including real-world problem solving.
The class, consisting mostly of juniors and seniors, began the year with the observation of a “dead body” played by College and Career Advisor Sheila Welsh. The students first made assumptions about her death, then later analyzed her autopsy report and concluded what diseases and health conditions led to her demise. Throughout the year, the class looked at the health issues the body indicated, such as diabetes, heart conditions and bacterial and viral diseases. “The activities and laboratory exercises are all based on real world applications. For example, they performed heart rate, blood pressure monitoring and EKG tests on each other,” explained Spencer.
As a culminating project, students worked in groups to create their intervention to a modern medical disorder. The project began in April and concluded with writing virtual grants to fund their projects. Students delivered a Powerpoint presentation in front of the class and a panel of judges. Medical solutions ranged from a monthly Plaque Prevention Pill that included the use of nanobot technology, to a Pocket MD, an at-home, portable blood analysis devise that can diagnose symptoms in minutes and provide treatment options.
“Principles of Biomedical Sciences is the first class in a four-part series, and this was the first year we offered the class. I will have a section of Human Body Systems, the second course, next year. Each course has units that involve biotechnology, chemistry, microbiology and physiology. My vision for the students is to offer new science elective courses that provide meaningful laboratory exercises that fit with health career themes,” continued Spencer.
The funding for the class and materials comes from California SB70 funding. Spencer also works under a grant supervised by April Treece, Director of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, and Joanne Durkee, Director of Adult Education in the MDUSD.
Spencer will be attending her second session of training this summer, going through an intensive nine months of curriculum in nine days.
The enthusiasm for the Principles of Biomedical Science class was far reaching. “The class has caused our students to re-introduce Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) as a club next year. That organization gives them invaluable leadership opportunities and opens the door to programs leading to health careers,” remarked Spencer. A positive outcome indeed.