Zanesville biomedical students get advanced education

By Christine Holmes, News Director

Students in Adam Dolling’s science classes returned to Zanesville High School Wednesday to find a bloody death scene in their classroom.

It’s now their job for the rest of the year to solve the woman’s death.

The task is part of Zanesville’s Project Lead The Way program in which students participate in hands-on activities throughout the school year to learn skills that can directly be applied to their careers of interest.

According to Dollings, the program introduces students to careers they may not know exist.

“Usually the kids can tell you about nurse (and) doctor, but they can’t tell you about geneticist or blood splatter analyst,” said Dollings.

Students taking the biomedical track will learn the skills used not only in forensic sciences, but also in the healthcare field to solve the death.

Sophomore Kylie Kennedy plans to go to college for a career in the sciences, so she enrolled in the biomedical program this year.

“It’s very interesting. I think it’s really beneficial, because, when I’m older, I feel like these skills that we’re learning here now are going to apply to real life,” said Kennedy.

Only on her second day of school, Kennedy has already realized how unique the biomedical program is.

“It’s not like most classes, like paper and pencil and lecturing,” said Kennedy. “You get to be hands on. You get to explore real life scenarios that could potentially happen.”

Dollings said there is almost no lecturing at all in his classes.

As the year progresses, Dollings will give the students more information to solve the mystery, but it’s up to them to design their own experiments and use the skills they learn in class to figure things out for themselves.

Dollings said some students love the challenge, but others get frustrated with the lack of information given early on in the year.

Freshman Shayna Waus and her lab partner spent Thursday afternoon taking measurements and making sketches of the scene.

Waus’ early inference is that the woman took pills for a headache, tripped because she was dizzy, hit her head and, at some point, threw up.

Junior Grant Hawkins has another theory. Based on the pills and syringe he noticed on the floor, Hawkins thinks it was an overdose death.

Hawkins said he’s taking the class because he wants to be a doctor one day.

“I feel like I will enjoy this class because it’s talking about the stuff I want to do,” said Hawkins.

If students enjoy their first year in the program, they can continue on into second, third and fourth years.

Each year builds upon the skills learned in the previous year. The more advanced it gets, the more complicated the projects become.

For instance, Dollings said some of the second and third year students will get to suture wounds, run real genetic tests and work with bacteria to replicate the way medicines are made.

The Project Lead The Way program is only in its third year, but there are big plans for students who continue into the most advanced fourth year stage.

Those students will have the opportunity to leave the high school and gain real-world experience through an internship program.

“Our students are going to have time during the school day where they’re going to go over to Genesis and rotate through different areas of the hospital,” said Dollings.

According to Dollings, the students who complete the biomedical program will leave school ready to enter the healthcare field as techs, or they will be one step closer to earning their certificates or licenses in whichever career they choose to pursue.

This hands-on style of learning is practiced nationwide through Project Lead The Way, but is still very unique to southeast Ohio.

“We at Zanesville High School are the only ones in this county that offer the biomedical science program,” said Dollings.

The nearest school district with this type of program would probably be found in the suburbs of Columbus, Dollings added.

At Zanesville High School, students also have the option to participate in engineering and computer science tracks of Project Lead The Way.

Dollings said the goal of the program is to introduce students to careers within the growing fields of healthcare, technology and computer science.