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Students Investigate a Mysterious Case

 Three HS students at a table with research on itWhat happened to Anna?

Students in PLTW Principles of Biomedical Sciences at Somers High School started off the year investigating the mysterious and sudden death of fictionalized person, “Anna.” This class, like all PLTW courses, focus on activity-, project-, and problem-based (APB) learning.

“I like trying to figure out what happened and solve what occurred,” said Katie Cole. Joe Bojaj added, “I like the hands-on stuff and using the apps and technology.”

During their investigation, students embark on a guided adventure to uncover clues and evaluate evidence to discover what happened to Anna. Students learn about experimental design, lab skills, biochemistry, DNA analysis, blood typing, anatomy and physiology, and more, to help them definitively determine the cause of death.

Zach Gordon described the class as “more engaging and more entertaining” than a traditional teacher-lead class. Katie added, “it motivates me more to get the work done,” because the style of class is interactive, independent, and uses innovative technology.

So far, students have worked collaboratively with classmates to gather ten pieces of evidence, measure the scale of the scene for accuracy, and learned how to use vernier equipment that measures heart and respiration rates to detect lies by asking their classmate questions before they apply this new skill to the five “persons of interest” in the case.

“I like using the different equipment,” said Dean Monachelli. Heather Rose Spears agreed and said she was, “looking forward to this unit because I was looking into being a forensic scientist when I’m older and that’s why I took this class.” Students unanimously agreed they are looking forward to the “autopsy” unit when they will have the opportunity to dissect pig hearts.

Students who successfully complete the course with a grade of 85% or greater, and score within the top three tiers of the culminating exam, are eligible for college credit through the Rochester Institute of Technology. High scores can also lead to additional scholarship opportunities.