New STEM biomedical science program teaches biology in forensic-meets-bioscience format

Students at Lakeville North High School were met with crime scene tape and a “body” in Room 306L. Their assignment? To figure out who Ana Garcia was and how she died.

 

The scene was met with reactions ranging from, “umm, wow” to “I took this course because there was a dead body on the first day.” 

Sophomore Sarah Hawkinson, front, draws the staged crime scene as part of the assignment for honors principles of biomedical sciences class. The class is part of the new STEM Biomedical Science Program.

Sophomore Sarah Hawkinson, front, draws the staged crime scene as part of the assignment for honors principles of biomedical sciences class. The class is part of the new STEM Biomedical Science Program.

 

Throughout the year, students in Honors Principles of Biomedical Science will have to figure out how Garcia supposedly died and what factors were involved in her death in a class that’s part CSI (crime scene investigation), part medical drama and all hands-on. Teachers say the course is a way to teach biology and other biomedical science disciplines in a hands-on fashion.

 

The class is part of the new STEM Biomedical Science Program at Lakeville North High School. Funding for the curriculum came from voters’ approval of the 2015 levy referendum.

 

This year, about 135 students are enrolled, including nine from Lakeville South High School, said Sally Winecke, one of the two teachers instructing the five sections. The program is starting with freshmen and sophomores; eventually, classes will be offered for juniors and seniors as well.

 

Lakeville North is one of three high schools throughout the Twin Cities teaching this specific program from Project Lead The Way, which provides transformative learning experiences in biomedical science, computer science and engineering for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The classes are intended for any student who wants to pursue a career in medicine or any discipline involving science of living organisms, said teacher Teri Homan.

 

Officer Mike Lamm, school resource officer at Lakeville North High School, explains how police officers process crime scenes.

Officer Mike Lamm, school resource officer at Lakeville North High School, explains how police officers process crime scenes.

“I’m not going to stand up and lecture,” Homan said. “They’re going to learn by doing. It’s all going to be self-driven.”

 

Students say that hands-on nature combined with the subject drew their interest.

 

“I want to be a forensic scientist when I grow up, and this seemed to be the closest thing to it at my age level, so I took the class,” said sophomore Zeshaan Sarwar.

 

For sophomore Jacob Bellile, the course offers a chance to learn more in depth about medical studies.

 

The pathway also is fostering career exploration.

 

Freshman Ishaan Lukhey and sophomore Rachel Riskedahl say for them, the program is about learning whether a career in health sciences might be right for them.Riskedahl already volunteers at Regions Hospital and said she is drawn to fields in that kind of setting.

 

Sophomore Sarah Hawkinson was so excited about the nature of the class that she arrived early – just so she could get a seat closest to the staged crime scene, which included a mannequin, overturned furniture and other clues.

 

“I don’t know if the blood is real,”Hawkinson said. “I kind of wanted to poke it.”

 

Winecke and Homan said the format of the class is invigorating for them, too.

 

“It’s all about bringing in all of the biological concepts into a real-life situation with Ana Garcia being in the crime scene and seeing how biology can relate to that,” Winecke said. “This is student-driven. This is inquiry-based, and a lot of real-life problem-solving.”

 

Learn more about the STEM Biomedical Science program by watching the video: 

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