Over 60 Walnut High School sophomores are taking part in the new International Baccalaureate Program Career-related Certificate (IBCC) program.
“This is a new program that’s been test driven internationally and now we are an IBCC school,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.
Walnut High is the only school in the state to offer both IBCC with the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Biomedical Sciences program as its career-related component.
Over the past year and a half, the school has gone through an extensive two-phase application/authorization process and visitation from the International Baccalaureate organization.
In June, Walnut High received full authorization as an IBCC school joining an elite group of 32 schools in the country and four in the state.
Walnut High School has been one of the nation’s leading International Baccalaureate World Schools since 2001.
The Biomedical Sciences program is a sequence of four courses that follow a proven hands-on, real-world, problem solving approach to learning in the biomedical sciences.
This allows the 64 participating students to specialize in, and focus on, a career-related pathway leading to higher education, work or apprenticeships.
“This is Common Core in terms of transition to careers and preparing kids for college,” Jordan said.
Science teachers Chiara Morgan and Bryan Andriese completed an intensive two-week training held at California State University, East Bay in preparation for the program’s 2013-2014 school year launch.
Their role is facilitating in the inquiry-based IBCC as the kids do “CSI” style investigative and collaborative work.
Sophomores taking the Principles of Biomedical Sciences course utilize designated laptops with specialized programs and manipulatives purchased through a partnership with the East San Gabriel Regional Occupation Program.
The course consists of six units designed to introduce students to the study of human biology and medicine. Students have become mystery investigators examining key evidence, analyzing and recording their findings about the sudden death of a fictitious 38 year-old woman named Anna Garcia.
“Little by little they get a piece of information to help find out how she died. They need to figure it out,” Morgan said.
During the first unit of study, students worked with partners to assemble intricate DNA double-helix models. They first reviewed the concept on a website and then began separating the different colored components.
“In this class you participate in every activity. It’s fun and really engaging,” said Jeffery Tan, age 16.
“And it’s easier for me to learn with the hands-on projects,” he said.
“I know I want to go into the medical field, said 15 year-old Jonas Liptak.
Jonathan Rodriquez said he is interested in becoming a pharmacist.
“I want to go into family medicine,” said Alan Ton.
Students also research careers in the medical field and log the information in journals during each unit of study.
Four careers already analyzed include emergency medical technician, 911 operator, crime scene investigator and blood spatter analyst, Morgan said. The career portfolio continues through all four IBCC courses.
“They organize the education requirements, job duties and documentation of sources using the APA writing format. I hammer that in so they’ll do well in college,” she added.
“This new extension of the program adds a powerful new dimension to our successful IB program," said Board Member Larry Redinger.
“We are fortunate to have two of the best teachers to shepherd this new unique opportunity for our IBCC students,” he added.
“What they’re doing in this class will be so relevant when they enter college,” Instructional Dean Barbie Cole said.
Students submit their work online, they access blogs, discussion boards and the teacher grades the work online, she explained.
“All those things that most kids don’t experience until college,” Cole added.
“These students have committed to the program and will take the next course in the sequence and begin IB courses next year. By the time they complete IBCC, they will have taken four bio-medical science courses, 2 IB Diploma classes and a special class called Approaches to Learning,” she said.
IBCC students complete two IB program courses and four IBCC core classes designed to create a bridge that connects their chosen Diploma Program courses and career-related studies.
Career opportunities for biomedical studies are expected to increase 20% through 2016, faster than average for all occupations according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Walnut High students will be well prepared to transition into college and careers through the IBCC and the Biomedical Science programs.
That’s the Walnut High way.