Gardena, CA, August 4, 2014: Serra Science teacher Stephanie Nguyen hasn’t had the most typical of summer vacations. She would call it more of a “working vacation,” actually. “It’s been a lot of work, but I know it will pay off that first week when the students see what we’ve brought in for them.” Nguyen just returned from Sacramento, where she took an intensive workshop on teaching a STEM curriculum. The workshop was sponsored by Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a non-profit organization that trains teachers to incorporate STEM through activity, problem and project-based curriculum.
Schools around the country have been adopting STEM curriculum as a way to prepare students for the global economy. The PLTW courses are aligned with Common Core standards, and are seen to showcase the future of the biomedical science post-secondary education and career paths. More importantly, PLTW courses are designed to complement other math and science courses Serra students will be taking. Except, with these courses, there will be a twist.
“They’ll basically be walking into a crime scene,” says Nguyen. Sudents will have to eventually solve the case by the end of the semester, like a drawn-out episode of CSI: Los Angeles. “I think the students are going to flip out when they see this,” says Nguyen. “This is something I am really excited about, because it’s real-life application that kind of sneakily teaches without the students even knowing what is happening. One moment they’re engaged in a piece of investigation, and the next they’re learning some fundamental aspects of Biology. I love it.” To add to Nguyen’s excitement, the Science department has undergone a dramatic renovation this summer, adding on four new science labs, which will be put to good use with this new curriculum.
The first track of the four foundation courses is Biomedical Science, which will be introduced to the current students. Next year, sophomores will learn Human Body Systems; the following year, juniors will learn Medical Interventions and finally by 2018 seniors will learn Biomedical Innovations. It’s an aggressive curriculum that will most likely use of many students’ elective slots, but Principal Jeffrey Guzman think it’s definitely worth it. “I can’t wait to walk into the science hall that first week and see our students engrossed right away. This is an exciting time for us.”