About Us‎ > ‎District News‎ > ‎

Biomedical engineering lesson has students saying “Wow, this is so cool!”

posted Feb 7, 2018, 5:58 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Student News Ambassador Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle College


The STEAM Academy’s unit for this semester, biomedical engineering, teaches students how medical technology helps people in the world today. While working through the lessons and completing experiments, students from Ray Childers Elementary School said over and over again, “WOW, this is so cool!” And who wouldn’t think it cool to look at an imprint of a hand under a microscope, create a plaster of an ear and have a hologram rise out of an iPad?


Before they jumped into the cool stuff, the students researched biomedical engineering and learn vocabulary words associated with it. Like all of the STEAM lessons, this one is housed on the Google Classroom app, which allows students access to information after they leave STEAM so if a particular unit piques their interest, they can return to it and learn more.  


Once the students mastered the background and vocabulary, they brought out the microscopes to look at human cells -- skin, hair, bone, muscle, brain, heart, lung, and blood – as well as an imprint made of their own skin by putting liquid glue on their hands and peeling it off. Next, students moved to the ear. High school instructor for the Advanced Learning Department Wayne Whaley used a 3D printer to make molds of a human ear. The students filled the ear molds with plaster to create models. Also as part of the lesson, they demoed holograms using a Plexiglas prism and YouTube videos. For their last experiment, students isolated their own DNA using chemicals and made a vile for a necklace filled with a combination of sports drink and their own spit.  


Students in third through eighth grades visit STEAM three times during the school year for specially focused lessons that involve hands-on learning. High school students can also take Project Lead the Way and virtual NC School of Science and Math classes at the STEAM Academy.


Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “This ties into the master curriculum plan of redesigning our district’s Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) plan four years ago. We are getting students on a college campus, in lab situations -- just like the real world -- and we are sparking their interests in fields, such as healthcare, forensics and aerospace engineering. We just started an internship program where local businesses and industries are investing in our students and showing them the possibilities of jobs available here in Burke County. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge is one example as they have 10 of our high school students interning with them in various sectors of the hospital. Our vision is to continue to invest in our students at all levels. For those business and industry leaders who share our vision, we invite you to invest in and build your workforce with BCPS.”


To learn more about the Burke County Public Schools internship program, contact Jamie Norton, internship coordinator, at 828-438-2997 or jnorton@burke.k12.nc.us.