Friday, December 13, 2013 - 09:42

As we are well into the 21st obvious that technology is changing, and for the most part, improving our lives. In some cases the U.S. K-12 education system has been a driver, if not a creator of these technological advancements. Think the CMS industry. In other cases the U.S. K-12 system has been slow to adapt. Think biomedicine. Century (anybody remember Y2K?) is has become beyond

There are many reasonable reasons (is that even close to grammatically ok?) why the U.S. K-12 system has not been faster in adopting and teaching biotechnology. However, as 2014 approaches faster than a Kardashian gets married and divorced, these reasons are becoming less reasonable. In fact the time has come for your school – yup you, your school – to implement a biomedicine class. Let me explain why this is becoming absolutely critical.

First let’s define “biomedicine”. I am sort of convinced that the term is too vague so as to be understood what really is, let alone understood enough to teach. Merriam-Webster defines biomedicine as:

Medicine based on the application of the principles of the natural sciences, especially biology and biochemistry;

also : a branch of medical science concerned especially with the capacity of human beings to survive and function in abnormally stressful environments with the protective modification of such environments

See what I mean? I read that I think “what now?” In terms of teaching this to high school students I think we need to simplify this and let our 16,17,18 year olds (and me) get their heads around it. Really what we are talking about is researching, testing and implementing new medicines developed through natural processes and functions most likely found in biology. Penicillin and the class of cancer fighting drugs called vinka alkaloid drugs derived from periwinkle are examples of biomedicine.

So now that we have a few examples and slightly less vague and intimidating definition let me list why you NEED to teach biomedicine:

  1. It might save your life – How is that for melodrama? As the population grows older yet lives longer it is becoming terrifically important to find medicine that is effective, safe, cost effective and can be use globally. 2014 biomedicine students will no doubt make huge discoveries and advancements in the future.
  2. Jobs – U.S. Depart. Of Labor pegs this industry as growing 62% faster than average with very high wage earning potential (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm) Just some of the possible careers related to biomedicine are: Hospital Scientist, Laboratory Technician, Microbiologist, Pharmaceutical and Medical Supplies Representative, Scientific Equipment Sales Representative, Pharmaceutical Scientist, Diagnostic Technician, Forensic Scientist.
  3. IT CAN BE TAUGHT – a quick Google search for biomedicine curriculum will not bring a lot of spot-on results however this is changing. I am proud to say STEM Fuse offers a terrific, teacher friendly, standards aligned course that is 100% ready to teach! There are other providers as well – check them out.
  4. It is AFFORDABLE – The few providers of U.S. high school biomedicine curriculum have all produce an excellent product in the case of STEM Fuse (may or may not be the case with other “Leaders”) a school can implement the course, complete with labs, for well under $2,000.

There are now very few legitimate reasons that biomedicine is not offered universally in our K-12 education system. Just considering jobs, positive economic impact in a lot of areas and our public health the benefits to expanding biomedicine are going to be critical to the U.S. and the planet.

So do yourself, your students and your community a huge favor and make 2014 the year your school at least investigates adding biomedicine as a science or health science course. I would end with “your life may depend on it”, but that might be going a little far… right?

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Carter