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DNA analysis, indentification of disease biomarkers, hands-on anatomy study...these are just a few of the specialized experiences now available to students enrolled in the Biomedical Sciences program at Frederick High School. Developed through Project Lead the Way (PLTW), this new program gives students a chance to lead their own experience through specialized course-work and real-world applications that prepare students for the rigors of advanced university study and STEM careers.
18 Students in First Cohort
This fall, the 4-year program launched with 18 freshman students admited after a rigourous application process. In addition to qualifying grades, attendence records, and teacher recommendations, students must also write an "innovation-task" essay in which they identify a medical problem and propose a solution.
Frederick High School science teacher, Mark Allen, is teaching the district’s first class in the PLTW Biomedical Science Program: Principles of Biomedical Science. In this course, students learn content in the context of real-world, hands-on activities and problems. For example, one immersive project they will be exploring all year is to solve a ficticous crime through detailed investigation, and rigourous scienfic analysis and laboratory activities. At the end of the year, the students must present their scientific findings and make a case for solving the crime.
Emphasis on Post-Secondary Success
The program also emphasizes exploration of careers in biomedical sciences and post-secondary opportunities after graduation.
"Students work on labs almost everyday, they write career journals to further their interest in certain jobs, and I guide them throughout the year as they learn each and every single day," said Allen. "They also take this course on top of taking a regular science class every year so needless to say the students must be interested in science and prepared to do a lot of rigorous work."
Students who complete the program will earn a total of four elective credits and will take the additional courses: Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, and Biomedical Innovation. There will also be opportunities for concurrent enrollment through the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) to earn college credit before high school graduation.
"I decided to apply for this class because I am really good with the human body systems and I hope to get a job in the medical field," said a student enrolled in the program. "I think this class will help me be ready for a pre-med program after I graduate high school.”
Specialized Instruction and Training for Teachers
To teach the program, Teachers undergo rigorous professional development at University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) with two master teachers.
"I attended a two-week training at UCCS this past summer to prepare for the start of this program," said Allen. "I will continue for the next 3 years to take a 2-week training to gain the knowledge for that specific years course."
St. Vrain Emphasizes STEM Education
PLTW classes have been taught in the district since 2011, but this is the first course in the Biomedical Science Program. Other PLTW programs include the Academy of
“8,000 schools across the country offer PLTW coursework to prepare students for college and the future,” said Jennifer Cahill, Senior Director of Media Relations for Project Lead the Way.
With a world-class curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, the project gives students the skills needed to succeed in this global economy. Furthermore, PLTW catalyzes lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.