March 9, 2016 -- For the last three years, Monticello has participated in connected learning programs offered through the Cleveland Clinic. Beginning in January, 18 Monticello seventh graders began a new STEM program in medical science. Each session includes an hour-long, real-time presentation via Skype, followed by a case-study investigation, hands-on activity, and collaborative discussion facilitated by a Cleveland Clinic caregiver. After the five-week rotation, students have four weeks to design a medical innovation based on what they have learned.
Monticello’s connection with Cleveland Clinic was first made by prior District IB coordinator Desiree Caliguire. This year, Leslie Garrett, current IB coordinator, approached science teacher Felicita Sanchez with the opportunity to get students involved in the (AHSM).
“After looking over the agenda for this program, I felt it would be a good fit into the seventh grade curriculum as an extension of some of the things we would be learning in class,” Sanchez said. “This program is unlike prior ones. It offers a lab component as well as the opportunity for students to design a medical innovation that ties to what they learned about in the program.” Garrett and Sanchez run the program together.
During the five-week program, the 10 girls and eight boys covered Medical Laboratory, Radiology, Respiratory Care, Pharmacy, and Physical Therapy, with a few obvious favorites.
“The students really loved the Medical Laboratory rotation,” Sanchez explains. “They learned about blood and made their own fake sample of blood. They thought it was gross, but also fun and interesting. They also enjoyed the week on respiratory care where they were able to use peak flow meters to test their breathing and play with a model of the lung to learn how the lung works.”
Sanchez has been impressed with the students’ eagerness and participation. “Over the course of the five weeks they have asked some really thought-provoking questions; that ensures us that they are really engaged and learning,” she said. “I was very surprised at how much they already knew. They were able to identify parts of the body and have discussions about some of the procedures we saw the Clinic performing because of personal experiences.”
Since the program is only offered on Wednesdays from 9-10 a.m., Sanchez has offered the program in her honors science class, the students she has during that time period. The timing doesn’t line up perfectly, though, she said. “Students give up a small piece of their next period, an elective course, and I sacrifice a portion of planning time. But it has been absolutely worth it.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic website, “The Adventures in Health Science and Medicine program is a series of courses delivered through videoconference technology designed to promote career exploration in health science and the study of medicine for students in middle school.” For Sanchez, the goal was to expose her students to something that would extend what she taught in class, relate it to real world experiences, and offer the opportunity to learn about possible career options. AHSM aligns with the standards required for seventh grade based on the Ohio New Learning Standards for Science.
Nearby middle schools are also taking advantage of the Cleveland Clinic program, including Milkovich Middle School in Maple Heights and Warrensville Middle School. Schools applied for the program in November.
Sanchez is a fan of this particular Clinic STEM program and has high hopes for it. “This has been a great opportunity for my students. I hope that this program will lead to bigger and better things for them.” In years past, Monticello eighth graders have been granted internships with Cleveland Clinic after completing similar connected learning programs.