Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national nonprofit organization that aims to increase STEM education, engagement, and excitement to local high schools. The CSA teamed up with the program two years ago and with the support of UCLA Department of Anesthesiology, brought PLTW to three local high schools in Los Angeles. Now it is Northern California’s turn. Working with Stanford Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, California Assembly Member Evan Low, and CSA’s Executive Director Dave Butler, CSA is now supporting the PLTW biomedical sciences curriculum at three Silicon Valley High Schools. The lucky schools are Palo Alto High School, Willow Glen High School, and Leland High School.
This exciting project brought together specially trained teachers, eager students, physicians, and residents from Stanford’s Anesthesiology Department to help bring rigorous, project-based biomedical sciences curriculum into the classroom, and offer hands-on learning to encourage the next generation of health care providers.
On April 5, the launch of the partnership was held at Willow Glen High School. At the event, remarks were made by Assemblyman Evan Low; CSA President Sam Wald; Shelly Fox from Project Lead the Way; Stanford Pediatric Anesthesiologist Felipe Perez, as well as participating teachers and students. Here is a link to the video highlighting the launch event.
The pilot program was based on the unique collaboration of its key partners: CSA provides overall program coordination and now, through the newly established CSA Foundation for Education, underwrites the cost of annual teacher training; PLTW provides the curriculum and offers comprehensive professional development during the summer; the Anesthesiology Department at Stanford coordinates classroom presentations by physician residents and hosts a field trip to our simulations labs for each high school; and Assemblyman Low and his staff provide broad-based community and public support.
According to the PLTW website, the Project Lead the Way curriculum will help transform the classroom experience for students: “Whether discovering new cancer treatments or teaching healthy lifestyle choices to their communities, today’s biomedical science professionals are tackling big challenges to make the world a better place. PLTW Biomedical Science students are taking on these same real-world challenges – and they’re doing it before they even graduate from high school. Working with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs, students engage in compelling, hands-on activities and work together to find solutions to problems. Students take from the courses in-demand knowledge and skills they will use in high school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take.” For more information, click here.
This incredible opportunity allowed residents and faculty to share their love of medicine with local high school students. Resident physicians are the backbone of the program, and while finishing their own medical training, they provide real world examples of what types of career paths these students could pursue and real-time inspiration to the students and teachers alike. During the pilot program, I was able to present interactive fun lectures on basic anatomy to various groups of students, demonstrate intubation techniques on mannequins, and discuss possible career opportunities. The students were then able to spend time with Stanford Anesthesia residents at the VA learning simulation techniques.
Now that the CSA Foundation for Education is established, CSA hopes to launch PLTW Partnerships at additional high schools in California, working with other academic anesthesiology programs in the state, helping create a pipeline of talent, prepared and motivated for an array of health care careers – including anesthesiology!