Hudson School Committee talks biomedical STEM program at HHS

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Students in the Medical Interventions course test antibiotic resistance in bacteria cultures. (Photo/Courtesy Hudson High School)

HUDSON – Hudson High School’s biomedical education program earned praise from School Committee members during a presentation to the committee last week. 

The program, which began in 2018, received curriculum materials from Project Lead the Way and $50,000 in grant funding from Mass STEM Hub and Lowe’s Companies. 

Hudson Public Schools Director of Science Sarah Davis specifically spoke during the Superintendent’s update on Jan. 11, saying she had championed the program after wanting to change how the district presented these topics to students. 

“Because we know that the rising demand for STEM jobs in Massachusetts is so high, we really wanted to take a strategic approach to prepare students for a career in this industry,” Davis said. 

Davis noted that the high school had seen high enrollment within its bioscience electives even before the biomedical program got up and running in Hudson. 

She said a lack of coherence inhibited the classroom experience, though.

“We knew that the interest and the passion was always here at HHS,” said Davis. “What we didn’t have was coherence across our electives, and it was really up to the students to build that coherence for themselves.” 

Program collaborates with other HHS offerings

Sophomore Bruna Oliveira develops a DNA fingerprint using gel electrophoresis in order to determine the identity of skeletal remains. (Photo/Courtesy Hudson High School)

STEM fields have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, with 17% of the Massachusetts workforce currently working in STEM-related fields, according to data from the Executive Office on Education. 

In addition, one in five STEM jobs only requires a postsecondary or associate’s degree according to the same dataset. 

Since 2018, 207 high school students have taken biomedical courses, with 51 of those 207 students having taken two or more courses. 

“These are yearlong courses, and it’s quite an investment,” said Davis. “It’s pretty exciting that so many students are choosing this program.” 

The program has strengthened its connections with a Portuguese medical interpreters program at the high school, allowing students in both programs to work together in the classroom.

“What has been really neat is some of the collaborative activities and cross-pollination we have had between these two programs,” said Davis. “[The medical interpreters] were looking at it from a different perspective, and everybody just took something away from it.”

The biomedical program has received praise from School Committee members, with Mark Terra-Salomão praising it for “starting to have intersections and multilingual learners.”

Molly MacKenzie said she had  “nothing but applause” for the “fascinating” program. 

School Committee praises program 

HHS Ninth grader Molly Horton completes an “autopsy” dissection of a preserved heart as she learns how medical examiners determine cause and mechanism of death. (Photo/Courtesy Hudson High School)

The program, which was granted funding for three years for durables, has been extended into this year through cost-saving measures employed by Davis. 

Though grant funding is running dry, Davis noted that much of the initial investment for the program was in one-time purchases to kick-start the curriculum.

“What we’re looking at is money for consumables,” Davis said.

She said that, while those consumables are “considerable,” they are not “massive” compared to the high school’s standard science program. She said that, since the initial investment has been funded, the program now is treated the same as any other Hudson High School science class and will continue . 

“The biomedical program is here to stay for a long time,” Davis told the Community Advocate this week. 

Hudson School Committee members expressed support for the program during their meeting on Jan 11. 

“I am so much more excited and understand more about these lessons than what the program of studies could potentially offer,” said Ilan Levine. “If we are trying to increase entry-level students into this program, I think this is something we can keep going and offer these materials and spread them as far as we can.” 

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