PLTW biomed allows students to pursue their own path

"It's truly a transformative experience." -Dr. Joy Klotz

Since its creation, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) has granted students the gift of first-hand experience in professional environments. The Biomedical pathway, one of the three available courses, takes students on an adventure through the lives of those who wish to make the world a healthier place.

From analyzing a crime scene to determining cancer risk via genetic analysis, Biomedical participants are tasked with completing labs, experiencing the daily lives of medical professionals, and gaining a sense of what occupation they would like to go into. For many students, the thought of choosing a career is one of the most daunting tasks on their plate. Thankfully, PLTW allows students to determine which careers that would (or wouldn’t) like to pursue.

“If I didn’t have this class and I was just guessing what I wanted to do I’d be starting college off without any specific goals in my head,” Lisa Tarantola, a senior taking Biomedical Innovations, said.

Many students wish to be doctors, but they often don’t know the scope of the word doctor. PLTW aims to not only educate students on the most common types of doctors, but also introduce them to other medical professions as well. Forensic analysts, chiropractors, general practitioners, and radiologists are just a few of the many occupations students are exposed to.

“(It’s the number one thing people comment on) when we travel, people say ‘Wow, you actually do ELISA? You’re actually using the BLAST database?’ (PLTW) is truly a transformative experience. It’s engaging, it’s applying to the real world, and it’s opening someone’s eyes to what could be,” Joy Klotz, a PLTW Biomedical teacher, said.

In addition to gaining a wealth of knowledge, the Biomedical program is a fun experience. The hands-on approach provided by PLTW is unrivaled by any other class. Students don’t just learn about jobs, they perform the tasks demanded by the profession in a classroom setting. Actually performing microarrays, utilizing micropipettes, and swabbing streak plates presents students with opportunities not found elsewhere in highschool.

“In freshman year we got to analyze a crime scene with “Anna” (the name of a mannequin) and you got to determine how she died and that was really awesome. There were so many different options and things to do,” Tarantola said.

PLTW is an excellent way to meet new people and network with those who are interested in the same career cluster. In addition to bonding with those within the same school, there’s also HOSA competitions between the participating schools. Students will compete against other schools in a variety of different events ranging from written tests and exams to taping up an athletes joints before they go into a game.

“There is literally something for everyone, I’ve got some students doing photography… bookwork, skits and things like that, we’ve got HOSA bowl going, students taking tests of medical terminology. Students get to find something they love and they get to compete in it,” said Dr. Klotz.

The PLTW Biomedical pathway is an excellent tool for success for anyone interested in practicing medicine. Students not only obtain a great deal of information on their future careers, but also make lasting bonds with those who are interested in the same passion for helping others. To participate within the Biomedical pathways, students must sign up for principles of biomedical sciences freshman year.