Pathway to Princeton

High school is a journey, a time of exploring and discovering. The road from freshman to senior year is paved with curiosity and inquiry, preparing students for the next adventure ahead. For Aida Garrido, her experiences in PLTW Biomedical Science showed her the way, a pathway leading to Princeton.

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Over the course of four years, Project Lead The Way’s Biomedical Science program has urged me down a path of self-discovery and provided a means by which to gauge my academic interests and prepare me for college. The capstone course of PLTW Biomedical Science is an internship, and I had the opportunity to intern at Scripps Translational Science Institute during my last semester of high school. When I walked through the labs of the institute for the first time, I was surprised by my ability to recognize so much of the scientific equipment – microarrays, micropipettes, vortexes, centrifuges, agarose gels, and petri dishes to just name a few. It felt so great to be able to see science tools that I’ve used in high school being used in a professional setting. I would have had no familiarity with those tools if it weren’t for the PLTW Biomedical Science program. That brief first experience, I believe, encapsulates the spirit of what PLTW tries to achieve through education: real world applications.

Principles of Biomedical Science

The Principles of Biomedical Science curriculum, which is usually designated as a first year course, entailed a grant writing project. My teacher usually assigned students to write a mock grant proposal, however, for our class she connected with a local humanitarian organization called Quench and Connect, and we collaboratively worked on the grant. The grant proposal was written so that Gayaza Cambridge of St. Mbaga, a rural high school in Uganda, could receive funding for educational science supplies. The end result of our efforts was that the school received 85 percent of the requested science supplies from Fisher and VWR International. This year, our class wrote another grant proposal, the goal of which was to fund the construction of fish ponds for a Ugandan secondary school called St. Josephs. It’s an effort to help the school establish a sustainable source of income in order to pay for teacher salaries and educational materials. The grants I’ve helped write throughout my four years in the program most clearly exemplify the idea of real world applications in education, and I can’t imagine having this experience in any other class.

Medical Interventions

I had a lot of fun learning about anatomy during the Human Body Systems course, but I have to say that Medical Interventions was probably my favorite course from the program. It was the most lab heavy of all four years. During that year, I detected cancer cells with microarrays, genetically modified bacteria so that it would glow in the dark, and tested the efficacy of certain sunscreens on yeast cells. In addition to these labs, it was also a great experience to work with my peers and teacher during the course of the pathway. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the nuances of team work. This class helped me become a better writer and public speaker. In just a few days, I’ll be presenting the abstract I wrote while at the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

The PLTW Biomedical Science Program is unique, and there are no other classes like those in the program. I’ll be sure to carry the skills I’ve developed while being in this program for four years to Princeton University, where I’ll be headed for college in the fall and potentially majoring in Computer Science and Neuroscience.