Preparing Students for Post-Secondary Education and Their Professional Careers

For eight years, Angela Anderson has been teaching PLTW Biomedical Science at Antelope High School near Sacramento, California. Antelope High School has implemented the complete PLTW Biomedical Science and PLTW Engineering programs, and has started implementation of PLTW Computer Science. Antelope High School’s PLTW Biomedical Science program includes an additional Internship course through which high school seniors enrolled in Biomedical Innovation can job shadow at local hospitals.

I love my job because I get to share knowledge, communicate concepts, and inspire others on a daily basis. Watching student progress and development over time is rewarding as an instructor. Working with other educators who are dedicated to facilitating the hands-on experiences of our students and watching students succeed is what motivates me on a daily basis.

Having taught PLTW for eight years, I often have alumni from our program come to me and share their gratitude for having been in the PLTW Biomedical Science program in high school. These students credit the critical-thinking and professional skills they obtained in their PLTW courses to their academic and professional success. PLTW does not only teach technical skills but also prepares students to be lifelong learners and independent thinkers.

At Antelope High School, our PLTW Biomedical Science program offers students opportunities to thrive both in academia and industry. This year, we have 31 students in our Internship course working at Sutter Roseville Medical Center and San Juan Medical Center in nine different departments. Additionally, our program works with the biotechnology department at UC Davis, where our students participate in the Teen Biotech Challenge website competition. Moreover, some of our biomedical students have done the Summer Program to Accelerate Regenerative Medicine Knowledge (SPARK) through UC Davis Medical Center. Throughout the SPARK program, students assist in conducting stem cell research and present their work in a symposium. These opportunities supplement the outstanding PLTW curriculum and contribute to giving students a jump start on college.

After receiving numerous emails from students who share similar feelings about the PLTW Biomedical Science courses, I felt compelled to share some of their stories. The impact that PLTW has on the lives of students is evident. This program builds students’ self-confidence and allows them to thrive beyond the classroom. Below are a few snapshots of thoughts echoed by many of my past students:

“I have learned to not only accept the failures and successes that will inevitably occur in the research setting, but I have also learned to continue to work and adjust to protocol changes to enhance research results. These lessons and skills that I derived from PLTW definitely transferred to my current research projects at UCLA.” – Elaine Lee, UCLA 2017 Graduate, Psychobiology 

Elaine currently conducts research at California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and assists with research involving human embryonic stem cell-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) to help enhance clinical applications and treatment for central nervous system diseases.

“Along with learning the value of teamwork, I began to understand that the instruction manual that classes usually give doesn’t exist, and we would have to think for ourselves in order to be successful.” – Alex Priymak, Antelope High School Class of 2017

Alex currently volunteers his time outside of school at San Juan Medical Center.

“They were great classes. The material was interesting and useful, and the program in general put me far ahead of my fellow classmates in the beginning of the undergraduate program.” – Michael Miller, Cal Poly SLO 2017 Graduate, Biomedical Engineering

Michael has been accepted into the blended master’s degree program at Cal Poly SLO and hopes to write his thesis on multifactorial electrical models of brain activity.

“It was also helpful to have a solid bio background/lab skills/lab report writing skills that PLTW gave me. I also felt more confident when interviewing with labs knowing that I had experience with different lab techniques and equipment.” – Danielle Clark, UCLA 2017 Graduate, Molecular Genetics

Danielle currently works doing translational research on gene therapy for sickle cell using CRISPR. She plans to apply to PhD programs and do research in immunology or molecular genetics.

Stories from these students prove that PLTW works! We are engaging, preparing, and inspiring students. We are giving students the confidence they need to achieve their educational and career goals. What an amazing curriculum that students and teachers alike can share in these educational experiences.

Being able to see the tangible impact that PLTW courses have on students’ lives is what makes teaching these courses such a wonderful experience. I am honored to be a PLTW teacher.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.