Biomedical Science Students Charged with Analyzing Fictional Crime Scene

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Students researched liver disease while preparing to identify the cause of death.



On August 14, students at Westerville North High School walked into a fictional crime scene at the home of 38-year old Anna Garcia.  Pupils in Principles of Biomedical Sciences (PBS) worked throughout the semester in a blocked class to discover how Anna died while learning about scientific inquiry, genetics, chronic illness, and bacteriology.

PBS is a course in the Project Lead the Way Health Pathway offered as an elective experience for high school students.  PBS utilizes a problem-based learning approach where pupils learn the practical application of biomedical sciences.  They examine medical history and autopsy reports, use digital probes to determine time of death and heart function, and dissect related organs.  Self-directed learning and online research are key components to the class.  North students accurately determined Anna’s cause of death to be from “spontaneous splenic rupture cased from splenic infarction during a sickle cell crisis.”  Sickled cells cannot hold as much oxygen as normal red blood cells.  In this case the oxygen supply to the spleen was diminished which led to tissue death in the spleen.

Students at Westerville Central and South High Schools also take PBS, but do so as a year-long course.  They will discover the cause of Anna’s death in May, and the PBS curriculum is written in such a way that her death is subject to change with every course.  PBS is the first in a series of courses that can potentially allow pupils to earn college credit while attending class on the high school campus.