Investigations ahead for Biomedical Academy students

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Students from Pelham High School's Biomedical Academy investigate their first assignment. (Contributed)

Students from Pelham High School’s Biomedical Academy investigate their first assignment. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

POLICE LINE—DO NOT CROSS. Strange barrier tape marking off the classroom where PHS science teachers Lucas McDonald and Julie Nelson are teaching Principles of Biomedical Science created an early-morning buzz.

This class is the first year of Pelham’s new Biomedical Academy so there are no veterans to prep students for what might be heading their way. A crime scene was certainly beyond any student’s expectation.

Entering the classroom was eerie. Another rectangular room taped off inside the classroom looked like a typical living room containing a chair, a table and a plant.

However, the taped outline of a body on the floor indicated the need for police barriers. Students were facing their first medical investigation in a unique lesson about the human body and the evidence it offers.

“Walking into a crime scene was like walking into a television show,” said sophomore Hannah Norris.

Students approached the scene cautiously. Given some information, they had to investigate to complete their assignment.

Students took notes, recorded measurements and took pictures with their phones.

“Next, you need to draw the crime scene to scale,” Nelson said.

“What do you mean ‘to scale’?” asked junior Patria Gatson.

“Do you know how they make things smaller and proportional by using graph paper in art?” Nelson asked.

“Oh yeah, I see how we could do that,” Gatson said.

Nelson and McDonald spent two weeks at Auburn University this summer training to teach the class.

The training is supported by Project Lead the Way, a national nonprofit whose goal is to increase interest in math, science and technology by providing students real-life experiences and project-based learning.

“We’re learning to evaluate for ourselves and we definitely have to think outside of the box,” Gatson said.

“Carrying out experiments and covering topics that they normally wouldn’t encounter in high school will give our students confidence as they enter college,” said Nelson. “Ideally, students will move from this first year class on to Human Body Systems next year.”

Discovering the answers has taken on an entirely new meaning at PHS.