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CSI: Concordia - New biomedical classes promote critical thinking among students

Cadets Spring Magazine 2018
By Ashley Wiehe

The year started out with a mystery. Anna was found dead in her home. It is the students’ job to discover what happened. 

Armed with facts and a new set of biological concepts, the class set to work on their yearlong project. Was it an existing condition or an infection or maybe foul play? Only a trek through Concordia’s new Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Biomedical classes will provide that answer. 

The new elective program was added this year to enrich the knowledge of the human body and promote critical thinking skills as the students piece together information to make a diagnosis. 

At the start of the year, the students were handed Anna’s case and asked to find the cause of her death. The idea is to engage students in hands-on investigations, specifically in medicine.   

“Students pursuing any medical career would benefit from the program because of the way in which it promotes critical thinking — centered on the human body,” said Crystal Castleman, the teacher leading the program.

The first class offered in the program this year is Principles of Biomedical Science. This freshman-level elective course is the first in a series of options for students to take alongside a core science class such as biology, chemistry or physics. The classes are Human Body Systems (adding in 2018-19), Medical Innovations (adding in 2019-20) and Biomedical Innovations (adding in 2020-21). 

For students, this program is a chance to kick-start their careers in medicine. 

“I thought it would be neat to have hands-on learning,” said freshman CC Calloway. “I think I will continue the program even though it can be challenging.” 

Working with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs, PLTW Biomedical Science students step into the roles of medical investigators, surgeons, microbiologists, geneticists and biomedical engineers. 

“I was interested in this elective because I have always enjoyed science, and it has been one of my strongest subjects,” said freshman Nathan Pennekamp, who wants to enter the medical field, specifically in sports training. “I thought this class would be great for me because it goes hand-in-hand with biology, which I am also taking this year.”

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a “transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S.,” according to the company. PLTW programs are offered at more than 8,000 elementary, middle and high schools across the country. 

While providing valuable knowledge for students wanting to enter a medical field, it can also afford students an opportunity to earn college credit. Students attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) can earn credits based on program completion and the end-of-course assessment. Student can also receive special Advanced Placement recognition when classes are taken alongside PLTW courses and with certain test scores. 

“The exposure to medical field allows students to see if that is what they truly want and are able to pursue,” Castleman said.

So, how did Anna die? By only taking the program will that be revealed.