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Principles of Biomedical Science kicked off its first ever term with a murder and the opportunity for students to begin their forensic science career.
Students walked into class to find a fake dead body and evidence markers on the floor surrounded by crime scene tape.
PBS teacher Erin Granucci took the lead in the biomed portion of Project Lead The Way and put effort into setting up both the course and crime scene.
“The crime scene is the lesson that drives the entire term. Different PLTW teachers teach the lessons in different ways, you have those which will play a nine-one-one call, and then those who are gonna set up crime scenes. Then you have those like me, who are in the kitchen making fake spilled juice and fake spilled vomit,” Granucci said. “The more real the experience, the more valuable the experience.”
The students observed the crime scene and took note of clues so that they, by the end of the term, will be able to decipher which of the suspects they were given was the killer.
”We observed it, sketched it, took notes and now we’re just trying to analyze DNA and data and narrow down who our suspects can be,” junior Jillian Fang said. “We’re in the very first steps of everything, it’s just the beginning of investigating.”
They were then expected to run with their collected evidence and write a concluding sentence on what they learned from viewing the scene. Students worked together to generate the facts, but provided individual analysis.
“You write your own responses, but when you look at it, you look with a team, work through the situation and problem solve together, but then you come up with your own answer to the problems,” senior Sabrina Baioni said.
Throughout the rest of the term, students will be taking data given to them from the crime scene to determine specific forensic conclusions that will help them choose who they believed murdered the victim.
“Whether it’s testing blood spatter, or DNA, or genetics, or autopsy reports, drug testing, fingerprint analysis — they’re doing it all. And every day they’re getting a little piece of the puzzle,” Granucci said.
Students are responding well to the class so far.
“It’s really different from other classes. It’s really cool,” Senior Anthony Perevertov said.
According to Granucci, her goal is to format the class as a professional work environment.
“I want them coming in as if they are employees,” Granucci said. “They’re gonna dress the part, submit the part, everything they do is if they’re in the workplace and in the meantime they get this experience.”
PLTW began with two grants, which funded Granucci and engineering teacher John Fuller’s certification to teach the class, the purchase of supplemental equipment, and a laptop for each student enrolled. Students use these to their advantage during experiments and when analyzing.
“The class is about being hands on and being able to think for yourself and use your critical thinking skills and apply it to the knowledge that’s been handed to you and apply it to the labs and everything,” Fang said.
The final for the class will resemble an AP exam, being that it will be online but is unconventional is its questions.
“I get to pick and choose how [the case] ends. They’re going to come up with their claim and try to back it up, and I’ll tell them what the correct outcome was,” Granucci said. “A lot of it too is how they communicate it, a lot of scientists have to communicate in writing. It’s a full-fledged report that they have to submit.”
Granucci’s desire for students to enjoy her class springs from her regret of not appreciating science when she was in high school
“I don’t know any better than to go big so I tend to kind of kill myself making things really cool for kids and part of that is that I didn’t really like science when i was in high school,” Granucci said. “It wasn’t intriguing to me and it wasn’t really hands on. So this experience — isn’t that.”
According to students and Granucci, the class will prepare anyone enrolled for whatever career they may be interested in.
“It’s trying to prepare you for a career in the medical field and prepare you to use the new techniques that are coming about in the next few years. It kind of gives you a jumpstart on everyone,” Baioni said.
Granucci’s devotion to the start-up of BioMed has left a positive impression on Baioni.
“She’s part of the reason I want to go into the medical field and I think she’s the perfect person to do this. I couldn’t have chosen a better teacher,” Baioni said, “I’m looking into neuroscience or surgery and this definitely gives me a good view of what other fields of biomedical science is out there.”
Granucci has high hopes for the future of the BioMed pathway and PLTW at RHS.
“Our district is good at keeping up with new generation-science standards and not many schools have this program and support of funding,” Granucci said. “Our students need to understand that they are in a good district and a good school.”


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