A New Course: Biomedical Engineering and Technology

By Samantha Milewicz

This year, the Science Department introduced many Science Technology and Society courses (STS). A particular one that many students are excited about is Biomedical Engineering and Technology, a two-part class taught by Mrs. Brocia.

Course Overview

Biomedical Engineering can be taken by anyone in grades 10, 11, and 12, and by any level student (on-level, honors, or AP), allowing everyone to participate. It is a project-based, no lab course divided into two parts, which can be taken out of order. Part 1, taught in the first semester, focuses on the digestive, excretory, respiratory, lymphatic, and immune systems. Part 2, taught in the second semester, is centered around the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive (specifically embryology) systems. 

Students will explore the anatomy and physiology of a system through websites, videos, and conversations. After understanding the system, students then study potential problems that may arise in a particular system. The students will then further their knowledge of the system by learning about different gadgets and technologies to help diagnose and correct the problem. For example, the class began with the digestive system. They learned about cameras in the form of pills that are swallowed and then “walk along” the intestine to provide live imaging. This form of diagnosis is much more efficient than conventional colonoscopies. For next week’s project, students will be researching different technologies and treatments that are used for the digestive system. For instance, biosensors for imaging or gastric surgery for weight loss. Their projects will culminate in a presentation of their findings that will be shared with classmates.

One thing that is missing from the course this year is dissections. Due to guideline changes surrounding COVID-19, students will not have the opportunity to perform dissections; however, Mrs. Brocia hopes that next year, this can be added back into the course along with other group work aspects.

Why take this course?

When I asked Mrs. Brocia, “What are you most excited for in this course?” she enthusiastically responded, “I am excited to have students in the class that are interested in being doctors, nurses, or other professions in the medical field and exposing them to things they will use further in their life.” When asked why she selected this as her elective this year, sophomore Samantha Schaevitz responded, “I chose this course because I hope to someday be a doctor, and I figured this would be a good place to see if the medical field is something I truly want to pursue.” Just like Mrs. Brocia explained, this class is perfect for someone with an interest in public health medicine to advance and cultivate their curiosity. 

Samantha also commented, “Mrs. Brocia is very approachable, and even though I haven’t known her that long, I know she is going to be a fantastic teacher.” Having a passionate teacher like Mrs. Brocia for a course like this can make all the difference. By being a teacher who hopes to progress her students’ interests in biology and expose them to all different avenues of this area of study, Mrs. Brocia is fostering an environment for biomedical conversations that include aspects unique to each student’s interests. 

Other STS Classes

In addition to Biomedical Engineering, some of the other new STS classes that are being offered this year to sophomores, juniors, and seniors without any prerequisites include:

Inventions and Innovations of the 21st century

In this class, students will learn about the impact of technology and science on society. They will study the innovations that changed our world forever while also using some themselves, such as 3D modeling, coding, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, flight simulation, and other fascinating technology platforms.

Crime Scene Investigation and Forensics

When taking this course, students will study the impact technology and science have on forensics and crime scene investigation (CSI) through different science and engineering practices. Students in the course will learn the proper collection, preservation, and analysis of samples including hair, ballistics, toxicology, DNA, and other key evidence used in CSI.

Geology of the Hudson River

Students in this course will learn geologic properties and engineering practices while specifically looking at the Hudson Valley. They will study how natural processes have shaped the surface surrounding us and design solutions to geologic hazards. Students will also have the opportunity to perform fieldwork in the Catskills and other local areas.

Eye to the Sky (Astronomy/Meteorology)

This course is designed to allow students to gain a deeper understanding of Astronomy or Meteorology. In this class, students will be able to choose a topic of interest and further their comprehension. Topic examples for meteorology include climate change, weather analysis and predictions, and natural disasters. For astronomy, students can pick from our solar system or explore the possibility of life on another planet.

Environmentally Conscious Citizen

This class allows students to assess their impact on the environment through a project-based learning curriculum. In this course, students will review case studies, prepare sustainable meals, and learn of green job opportunities. The course will culminate in an exciting capstone action research project. 

Environmental Impact of Natural Disasters

This course allows students to further their interests in the causes, occurrences, and consequences of natural disasters. They will study earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, wildfires, plagues, and many more intriguing disasters. This course will be centered on naturally occurring disasters as well as the role of human activities in exacerbating and alleviating the disaster. Students in the course will have the opportunity to design mitigation plans to lessen the impact of a disaster, such as engineering bridges or designing preparedness plans.