Since launching the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences program in 2015, 100 percent of graduates from the Meridian Technology Center program have gone on to attend college. This year is no exception.
Students in the STEM Academy program are already churning out college applications, essays and applications for scholarships. Even though it’s early, many have already begun to narrow down what they want to pursue, as well as the schools that will get them there.
Senior Nicole “Coley” Larson from Perkins-Tryon High School plans to become either an occupational therapist or pediatric oncologist. “I really like to help people, and my brother had cancer,” said Larson about her motivation behind pursuing these careers. She also already knows she will be attending the University of Oklahoma to prepare for medical school. Her journey to a future career in medicine has already started long before her high school graduation.
Larson is part of Meridian’s Biomedical Sciences program, which introduces high school students to medicine and human body systems and prepares them for careers in medical and health-related fields. The program is part of Meridian’s STEM Academy, which also includes the Pre-Engineering program.
A rigorous assortment of typical high school courses like chemistry, calculus, physics and biology are enhanced with PLTW curriculum, a national curriculum that provides transformative learning experiences for students and teachers across the country. It focuses on developing problem-solving skills by immersing students in real-world preparatory-level academics, which include courses such as Biomedical Innovations, Medical Interventions and Environmental Sustainability.
Students get to work with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs and step into the roles of medical investigators, surgeons, microbiologists, geneticists and biomedical engineers. By graduation, students are eligible to take up to seven AP exams, which can transfer to college credit. On the AP Biology exam alone, 75 percent of Biomedical Sciences students who took the exam last year passed, compared with a national average pass rate of 37 percent.
“We prepare them for the rigorous academics in college,” said Instructor Stephanie Hara, who teaches several of the classes in the program, is a PLTW Master Teacher and was recently recognized nationally as a PLTW Outstanding Teacher.
Co-instructor Cheryl Cottom agreed, saying she pushes her students as well. “They have to figure out many answers on their own. I don’t want them leaving my class without the knowledge of where they can find answers to problems or questions they have. I want students to understand the concept of what they are learning and not just how to complete the task. I want them to be learners and researchers, always wanting to do their best,” she said.
Larson sees how her Biomedical Sciences experience will benefit her in college as well. “The program helps you get into and through college. I learned how to really study and take notes in these classes,” she said.
Students can join the program their sophomore or junior year of high school through a competitive application process. “Our students are really successful. They’re confident, and their skills are solid. I’m proud of the program,” said Hara.
Graduates of the program have gone on to study physical therapy, engineering, nursing, veterinary medicine, forensics or other fields related to medicine. Several are freshman research scholars at Oklahoma State University, an honor given to only 60 students each year.
“I’ve enjoyed the opportunities the program offers as well as the smaller class sizes and the resources like labs and 3D printers,” said Stillwater senior Sam Shideler. “The program really helps you become a well-rounded student.”
Larson added, “The classes are always interesting. It’s a really helpful program if you’re looking for something that will push you academically, especially if you’re going into health-related careers.”
To find out more about this program, visit www.meridiantech.edu/biomedicalsciences. Sophomores will be touring Meridian’s campus in January to see the programs firsthand. The priority application deadline is February 1, 2019. Students will be accepted after that date as long as space is available.
For more information visit www.meridiantech.edu or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
Photo: Biomedical Sciences student and Perkins-Tryon senior Nicole “Coley” Larson works in the lab at Meridian. At Tech, she is gaining skills that will set her ahead in college. She plans to attend college in the fall to continue her journey to becoming an occupational therapist or pediatric oncologist.