Students in Raeleen Epperson’s and Carl Adams’ biomedical science classes at Mt. Spokane High School knew they were in for a different type of classroom experience from their first week of school. Their first assignment? Discover how Anna Garcia died.
“She had a bunch of stuff wrong with her,” said freshman Carly Frank. “It was this like, CSI unit, and we had to determine how she died.”
The innovative curriculum comes from Project Lead the Way a nonprofit curriculum development organization that promotes mathematics, engineering and engineering technology courses in K-12 schools.
When Assistant Superintendent Dan Butler heard about the biomedical science course, he knew he wanted to bring it to Mead schools. Three years ago the district introduced the organization’s engineering program.
That real world application is just one of the things that make the group’s courses unique. Frank said the class was given toxicology and autopsy reports as they tried to figure out what caused Anna Garcia’s death.
“We put a bunch of theories on poster boards and argued our case before the class,” she said.
To prepare teachers to implement the program, the group partners with universities to provide training and ongoing support. Locally, Washington State University has been named an affiliate, and Sylvia Oliver is WSU’s biomedical sciences Project Lead the Way affiliate director.
“As a trained biological scientist, I’m amazed by this curriculum,” Oliver said. “It’s not only rigorous – it’s relevant. It mimics what a regular workplace, research lab or doctor’s office is like.”
Health care is a huge employer in the Spokane area, making the addition of this curriculum even more timely. Butler said, “Seventy percent of our local workforce is around biomedicine.”
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