HMS MEDScience: Think Like a Scientist!

This post is part of a series about the workshop presentations delivered at the ACT Skills Summit.

HMS MEDScience is a high school STEM program that operates as an embedded component of students’ anatomy, biology, and physiology classes. During the program, students in these classes travel to Harvard Medical School to apply classroom content to simulated health care scenarios involving Stan, the HMS MEDScience interactive mannequin. Through these scenarios, students learn about organ systems and practice real techniques utilized by healthcare professionals including collecting subjective data from a patient, checking vital signs, and administering IV.

During the ACT Summit, HMS MEDScience Executive Director Julie Joyal, along with Program Coordinator Sally Noteware and Instructor Gretchen Warland, modeled strategies employed by HMS MEDScience to support the Achieve Skills: critical thinking, creativity, and perseverance.

“The thing that makes our program successful is not the biology,” says Noteware, “but the way we engage our students.”

Strategy 1: Design roles for multiple skill levels

HMS MEDScience is purposeful in offering multiple opportunities for students to participate and engage during lessons. For example, HMS MEDScience instructors may designate students to take notes on the board, communicate with the patient, or read vital signs to the group. These roles help students that may be less fluent in academic content feel confident contributing.

Strategy 2: Welcome ALL forms of participation – “no wrong answers”

In order to encourage participation, HMS MEDScience makes sure to value anecdotal experience along with textbook knowledge. They provide students with opportunities to make connections between activities and their real life experiences via questions like:

  •         “What questions does a doctor ask when you go to an appointment?”
  •         “Who knows how to use an inhaler?”
  •         “Who knows someone with diabetes?”

Strategy 3: Offer opportunities for students to learn real STEM skills

In HMS MEDScience programs, students wear real scrubs, learn real healthcare skills, and tackle real problems. The authenticity of these experiences helps students stay engaged while learning about real careers they can pursue.

All workshop materials can be found here.