University of Washington School of Medicine Students Provide Learning Opportunity for PLTW Students

Ella Kerr is a program coordinator at the Health Science STEM Education Center at Washington State University (WSU) Spokane.

Washington State University (WSU) Spokane has an amazing shadow program for high school PLTW students. The shadow program provides college campus and workplace experiences for regional high school students to better prepare them for their post-secondary education and career pathways.

We do this by partnering PLTW high school juniors and seniors with university students in Health Science and Allied Health programs during a typical day on campus. The campus experiences have all been very successful, as measured by PLTW students’ comments and surveys. The students especially appreciate having a university student ambassador partner with them to provide a more personal experience and be there to answer their questions.

One of the most popular experiences we provide is at the WSU Anatomy labs on campus that are shared with the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM).

On March 2, we provided 20 PLTW students from Rogers High School with the opportunity to learn about human anatomy from UWSOM first-year medical students in their anatomy lab. The program consisted of stations, each featuring a human organ. At each station, medical students taught the high schoolers basics about the anatomy and physiology of that organ, tested their understanding, and answered any questions they had. The medical students also served as mentors available to answer questions about the career pathway to medicine.

Check out some of the comments from UWSOM students below:

  • "Wonderful opportunity for these students. I think there was a good variety for them to see."
  • "Most of the kids seemed super excited to be there!"
  • "The format of having an organ system at each station made for smooth transitions."
  • "I really enjoyed the organ systems that we were able to use and the specimens that we had access to. Great excitement from some of the kids as well!"

This experience was particularly special for Rogers students, as many first-year UWSOM medical students are regular volunteers in their biomedical sciences classes on Wednesday mornings and know some of the high schoolers through this volunteer service. Every one of the Rogers students commented that the best part of the experience was not only seeing, touching, and working with human organs, but also having the college students there to mentor them and allow them to ask questions about the medical field and what it’s like being a college student. Several students even commented that the experience convinced them they want to go into the medical field!

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.