by Lisa Tome
There's nothing like preparing for a school presentation for months and then having it delayed by mother nature.
That's exactly what happened to Perryville High School Biomed and STEM students. The students were scheduled to present their Capstone Project Proposals on December 15. Schools dismissed early that day pushing the presentations back until last Tuesday.
The rigorous Biomedical Sciences Project Lead the Way course is taught by Larry Sickels. On Tuesday, eight students, all seniors, were at long last going to present. "Now they are more anxious," said Sickels.
It didn't show.
Biomed Capstone presenter Tricia Kelly hopes to create a project involving the effects of different hand-washing products - water alone, hand sanitizer, and soap. Her project will involve swabbing hands after they've been washed with each product. Her end goal is to determine what is the most effective project to wash hands.
Edyn Morris depended on the World Health Organization's recommendation of the temperature in which hands should be washed, 37 degrees Celsius, for her project. Morris is also interested in the most effective handwashing techniques and products.
Rosemarie Berger wants to discover the impact that antimicrobials have on Ecoli K-12 bacteria. Berger, who plans to study Biology in college, did her research and found that Ecoli K-12 is perfect bacteria for a classroom environment.
Kenedi Canteen is trying to unveil the effect of different metals on growth of bacteria. Specifically, she said that door handles are rarely cleaned.
She wants to see which door handles - copper, stainless steel, or brass, retains the most bacteria for 24 and then 48 hours. Instead of using actual door handles, because they would be a challenge to swab for bacteria, Canteen would use metal sheets of each of the materials to study the bacterial content. Sarah Campbell did her homework and learned that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their life time. So Campbell plans to compare sunscreens, more than one brand, and of different sun protection factors (SPF). She will specifically compare SPF 15, 30, and 50 varieties of two different sunscreens. Campbell, who aspires to be a nurse, has an interest in protecting her future patients from skin cancer.
There were additional presentations, all with challenging themes, similar to a science fair but on a college level. Sickels said the project proposals are an in depth science fair on a higher level. Sickels said elementary and middle school science fairs helped prepare the students for these types of presentations.
For the Capstone project presentations, past students and students who will take the course next year were invited to attend, be the audience, and ask questions.
They were encouraged to "push" the presenters and make them defend their project, during each of the six minute presentations.
To get to the Capstone proposal, students must first successfully complete Principles of Biomedical Sciences, Human Body Systems, and Medical Interventions classes. They can qualify for college course credits, similar to advanced placement exams. Students are preparing themselves for careers in nursing, engineering, and other science-related careers.
Students have to apply and be accepted into Biomed. Students who do not make the cut the first time they apply are encouraged to apply again. Perryville High and Cecil School of Technology are the only two county high schools which offer this college level program.
The Biomed course is rigorous and students often work alongside mentors from within the community.
The mentors come from Aberdeen Proving Ground and Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center, one student even had a long distance mentor from Scotland.
Sickels said the mentors help the students develop skills different than the ones he provides in the classroom, providing a more well rounded education.