Biomed sciences comes to Palmetto High

ataylor@bradenton.comAugust 28, 2011 

PALMETTO -- Fifteen-year-old Korey Kinder has found a course at Palmetto High School that he loves.

Korey, a sophomore, aspires to be an anesthesiologist. The course that he is obsessed with during this first week of school is Principles of Biomedical Sciences. It’s a class that forms the foundation of the high school’s new $550,000 biomedical sciences program.

“We’re breaking ground,” teacher Hanna Waldhalm said about the new program. “This class is why I came to Palmetto High School. This is going to light fires under students.”

Dollars for the program came to Manatee County through the federal Race to the Top funds worth $5.1 million. The $550,000 goes into expanding STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math classes. The money pays for supplies and two teachers’ salaries -- Waldhalm and Janel Shinn. Plus, Palmetto High School gets a four-year biomedical sciences program students can choose as an elective course.

“It’s very deep,” Korey said about the class. “It’s helping me to learn medical terms.”

The initial course, taught by Shinn, exposes students to a medical investigation where a person is found dead. A tape outline of the human form is drawn on Shinn’s floor. Red caution For the remainder of the year, students will investigate different health factors related to the victim. Students will be asked to determine what led to the person’s death.

They will investigate lifestyle choices and come up with factors that may have lengthened the person’s life.

In addition to the hands-on biomedical work, students will be educated on careers.

“Each student is required to keep a career journal,” Shinn said. “Over the course of four years, they go through hundreds of career options.”

After the principles of biomedical sciences class, students can opt for the second phase of the program -- the human body taught by Waldhalm.

Friday, Waldhalm’s class was filled with several miniature skeletons about 2 feet tall. Dozens of bars of clay were delivered to her class. And students have started drawing diagrams of the skeletons.

Eventually, Waldhalm said, they will take clay and mold it to fill the skeleton. Each clay piece will represent the brain, the heart, the liver, etc.

“They will build muscles, organs, everything on that whole mannequin,” Waldhalm said. “They won’t just sit down and memorize. They will have to explore.”

Waldhalm called the mannequin “the coolest toy ever invented” because it goes beyond the memorizations required of textbook learning.

After Waldhalm’s class, students can sign up for medical intervention and for the fourth year, biomedical innovations.

“When they are in that fourth class, they are given fictional patients,” career advisor Millie Torres said.

Students could also select to be certified as an emergency medical technician or a first responder.

For Korey, the class is more of a gateway to fulfilling his dream of being an anesthesiologist, a field he says is “the perfect interface between scientific advances and development.”

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