Pros Intervene in PLTW Coursework

After a quick demonstration by guest presenter Dr. Steve Huffman (pictured below), students in Mrs. Amy O’Loughlin’s medical interventions class snapped on the rubber gloves and got to work. Using the tools of the trade, students sutured the broken ends of two balloons, as if it were a vein in need of mending, at their lab tables in the CJ STEMM Center.

This simulated operation is just one of many examples of the hands-on approach to teaching and learning that, combined with instruction from the experts, makes Project Lead the Way curriculum at CJ so innovative and engaging.

“The PLTW courses have helped confirm the idea that I want to pursue a medical career, if not become a cardiovascular surgeon,” said Jarred Stamper, a junior taking medical interventions. He appreciates having the opportunity to try the same techniques professionals working in the field use while still in high school.

Stamper is currently enrolled in his third PLTW biomedical science course. His experience with PLTW has influenced him to take the fourth-year biomedical innovations course as a senior and is steering him to study pre-med in college.

“It’s a different type of feel,” Stamper described. “PLTW classes are different from other classes I’ve taken because I get to do so much independent learning.”

All four PLTW biomedical science courses are offered as electives and taken alongside a student’s regular science and math classes. The project-activity based curriculum challenges students to think critically while involvement from medical professionals like Dr. Huffman, Dr. Jim Olson and Dr. Thomas Heck ‘70 (pictured top) helps make the lesson real.

“The path to working in medicine all starts with the basic scientific knowledge,” Dr. Heck said. “What the students are learning now is where it all starts.” The breast cancer surgeon and CJ graduate returned to his alma mater for the fourth consecutive year in February to talk with PLTW students in O’Loughlin’s classes.

“You never know which kid sitting in this classroom today might end up where I am in the future,” he said. “I feel like if I can have even a small influence on a student’s college or career choice, that’s something that means a lot to me.”

According to O'Loughlin, those PLTW students who do choose to go into a college or career field in medicine are better prepared to succeed.

“The PLTW biomedical curriculum gives our students a competitive edge in college by exposing them to many different lab experiences that they wouldn’t normally receive,” O’Loughlin said in the spring 2014 issue of Vision, CJ’s alumni magazine.

More than 30 graduates, who took at least one CJ biomed course since 2009, are now studying a related field in college.