Many eighth grade students aren’t thinking about high school yet. They should be. Spots are already filling up for some of the Antelope Valley’s most prestigious high school programs, such as Eastside High’s Biomedical Academy. This academy, which has been nationally recognized by Linked Learning for its innovative approach to education, is a four-year program for students interested in pursuing careers in science, medicine, or forensics. Over the four-year program, students learn how to apply science to the real world through such tasks as designing an emergency room, diagnosing patients, and solving a mysterious death. These activities help students apply their learning to real-world situations.
This all begins freshmen year when Biomed students take Principles Of Biomedical Science class and investigate the case of a dead woman, trying to discover how she died. In order to do so, these students must examine the deceased woman’s medical history, medical treatments, and autopsy reports. This class is taught by veteran educator and former teacher of the year, Kerin Coffey.
For most students, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a class be so hands-on.
“I like it because it gives us opportunities to work with stuff that other people might not get to,” says student Heather Estrada.
Students in the Biomed Academy frequently do experiments. For example, in order to understand the patient’s diabetes, students needed to test food samples. Similarly, in order to better understand the impact of heart disease, students design and build a pump to simulate the heart. By the end of the program, students even have the opportunity to serve as the school’s athletic trainers in their innovative Sports Medicine class, taught by Summer Blunden.
These cutting-edge science classes are paired with integrated classes in English and social studies, allowing students to continue exploring their scientific interests even in their other classrooms. Teachers frequently join their classes in the school’s collaboration space, a cutting-edge room with large touch-screens and couches that can accommodate up to eighty students. There’s even a virtual reality room, known as Z-Space, complete with multiple 3D printers.
“The Biomed program is good for students because we want to help students who want to go into the medical field,” says Biomed teacher Mr. Gomez. Mr. Gomez was one of two Biomed Academy teachers recently recognized by Lancaster mayor R. Rex Parris for their innovative teaching approach during the pandemic. “We want to give them background knowledge so when they go to college, they’ll have knowledge that some students may not and their transition from high school to college won’t be that bad.”
Student Brian Zaragoza, for example, wants to become a paramedic. He feels like the Biomed Academy has helped him toward that goal. “I really like the Biomed program because you learn about different interesting topics,” he says. “Ever since I was a little kid I really liked to learn more about how the human body works.”
The four-year program culminates in a portfolio defense, in which seniors work extensively with a mentor teacher, develop a website, and deliver a twenty-minute presentation to a panel of judges. The experience is rigorous but rewarding, earning academy graduates spots at top-tier universities such as UCLA. One of last year’s graduates even earned a full-ride scholarship to USC.
If you know an eight grade student who enjoys science and is looking for a cutting-edge high school experience, consider encouraging them to apply to Eastside’s Biomed Academy. They can access the application at this link.