A lifeless body lay behind police tape as inquisitive investigators took photos on iPads and looked for clues.
“Look, there’s a bug on the body,” one said.
“I see some blood splatters,” said another.
The death scene was staged in the back of Bishop Noll Institute’s new STREAM Lab, and investigators were Bishop Noll students in a new course called Principles of Biomedical Science. This interactive learning experience is part of a unit on forensics and is the first of several cool activities in this course, said Bishop Noll science teacher Rebecca Dostatni said.
As part of its STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) initiative, Bishop Noll added the new course this semester to give students the chance to explore concepts of biology and medicine as they take on roles of different medical professionals to solve real-world problems.
Dostanti completed two weeks of professional development this summer to gain skills to teach the course. She learned how to challenge students in various scenarios, including investigating a crime scene to solve a mystery, diagnosing and proposing treatment to patients in a family medical practice, tracking down and containing a medical outbreak at a local hospital, stabilizing a patient during an emergency, and collaborating with others to design solutions to local and global medical problems.
The next unit will include a fake, but realistic, phlebotomy arm that will allow students to learn how to draw blood, Dostatni said. “We will also do microbiology lessons when studying the ‘outbreak’ unit, and students will learn how to culture and analyze bacteria in petri dishes.”
All of the students who registered for the course this semester are girls. Most are sophomores, but the material is interesting and challenging enough for juniors and seniors as well, Dostatni said. Several of the students are interested in nursing or medicine.
“All of the students seem to be extremely curious and excited about the course. I can't say enough great things about this intelligent, positive, strong, driven, confident group of young women,” Dostatni said. “They seem completely ready to take on any challenge that awaits them. I can already tell it's going to be a great year thanks to their energy and inquisitive minds.”
“I’m looking forward to solving our first mystery, and finding out who or what killed the person,” said student sophomore Maria Carbajal, who hopes to learn more about the nursing field and gain knowledge about how police officers investigate crimes. She is thinking of a career in nursing or immigration law.
Sophomore Airyal Smith chose to take the course because she wants to major in biomedical engineering/science in college and would potentially like to work in a hospital setting.
“I hope to learn about basic biomedical sciences to help me be ‘ahead of the game’ so to speak when I'm heading into my college life. Plus, this class will help show me if biomedical sciences is something for me to continue to have a passion for.”
Smith said, “I am interested in sciences of almost any kind. I come from a family that have all studied in some sort of science, math, and engineering and I intend to do the same. I've had a fascination with all sorts of STEM activities since a younger age and am really excited to have the chance to learn all about my favorite subjects.”
While at Noll, Smith has taken biology and is currently taking chemistry. She encourages other students to sign up for the biomedical science course. “It's a hands-on class, and I personally think that's the best way to learn.”
Classmate Maria Quiroga, sophomore, is also considering a career in the medical field.
“I am especially interested in science because I feel that there are many career choices in science. When I grow up, I want to be a pediatrician. I hope to gain information on possible careers in which I can use the skills I learned in this class. Quiroga has taken chemistry and is taking AP environmental science at Bishop Noll. She would tell potential students that Bishop Noll offers a variety of science classes that touch on different possible career choices.
“I think this course is critical to those students interested in any career related to healthcare,” said Dostatni, a 2000 BNI alumna and head of Bishop Noll’s science department.
“The students learn about real-life connections more so than in regular science courses. Understanding biomedical science will allow students to have the skill set to identify biomedical-related problems, which will lead them to innovation ideas. These are the kind of skills we will need people to continue to have in the future. In our current world, innovation in testing for COVID-19 is just one example of the importance of biomedical innovation skills for the purpose of human health.”
The next course offered in Noll’s STEM biomedical pathway is still being determined but will be either Human Body Systems or Medical Interventions. The final course will be Biomedical Innovation.
For more information on becoming a Bishop Noll student, please contact Jeff Stur, director of admissions, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 932-9058, ext. 1008. Visit bishopnoll.org for more information