Courtesy of Sarah Kane
A group of 10th and 11th graders from Hill Regional Career High School brought their biology and chemistry knowledge from the classroom to the lab on a field trip this week.
Hoan Im Ngo, who conducted his postdoctoral training in cellular and molecular parasitology at Yale University School of Medicine, helped lead the field trip as part of a new “workforce classroom” curriculum model for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, or STEMM courses at Career High School. . After observing both the professional and educational sides of development science, Ngô wants to help New Haven youth launch into local careers in the biosciences field.
According to Ngo, most nationally accepted science curricula in public high schools operate on a curiosity-based approach in which teachers engage their students through enthusiasm and questioning. But Ngo explained to the news that this approach is becoming a mainstream structural setback. Rather than trying to excite students about topics they have no inherent interest in, Ngô believes that staff and administrators should move to a more practical approach that explains the importance of scientific information.
“STEMM studies are useful when trying to establish a career, a true connection, the material is often not encountered with Bill Nye’s Science Education, or classes designed to stimulate sheer excitement,” Ngo told the paper. “Instead, we should move to developing a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEMM) workforce and modernizing vital science education so that our kids are a little closer to their city’s growing workforce.”
These feelings stemmed from Ngô’s previous teaching experience as a middle school science teacher at Sheridan Middle School in New Haven. At Sheridan, he notes that his “prep school academic stars” lose interest in their passion for science by the time they reach graduation. Ngo began grappling with one question: Why?
After much reflection, he concluded that pursuing a career in STEM required learning a “whole new world”, something rarely required in other professions. Any job in the biosciences industry requires a different way of thinking and a new vocabulary. He said that these barriers made many students fear pursuing science.
“Their passion and curiosity alone was not enough to motivate these students onto a STEM-oriented path,” said Ngo. “I now have to explain to them the opportunities that basic biology can give them, and give them a reason to go through all these problems.”
with approx Six percent Of New Haven’s workforce working in the biosciences industry, Ngo noted that graduating students could make a larger percentage of these jobs in the city. He wants to encourage New Haven residents to fill these jobs, as opposed to drug companies and hospitals that outsource their jobs to non-residents.
If students are able to form a comprehensive STEMM foundation in high school, Ngo said, they will be better able to access the opportunities that surround them in New Haven. He hopes that contextualizing the necessity and applicability of science education will increase the number of job opportunities for his students.
“Science is on the rise, so we need to engage our students early on to set a precedent,” he told The News. “We are engaged in targeted growth. I don’t want my students to be left behind again.”
Ngo said modernizing science education could help bridge the gap between high school students and the biosciences workforce in New Haven, which is currently in the works. Ranked 20th in the nation In terms of life sciences labor markets.
Ngô reports that applying the “classroom to workplace” model has already yielded positive results, with students becoming more curious and taking the initiative to explore more career options.
“The initiative not only enhances students’ awareness of the various career paths available to pursue after high school (especially uncommon or unknown options), but also shows the importance of applying various 21st century skills in a real-world environment while building confidence in communicating with others outside the school building,” Sarah Kane, who teaches business courses at Hill Regional Vocational High School, wrote to The News.
This development includes visiting and interacting with biosciences institutions in New Haven, allowing students to see how they can get a career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEMM). Grade 10 and 11 Biology and Chemistry, and STEM jobs Classes toured Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a local company located about a half mile from their school, on April 17. Alexion works to treat and eliminate rare diseases through multidisciplinary studies of neurology, hematology, nephrology, and metabolism.
Several students told the news they were excited to see how easy it is to access the biosciences industry, as the lab is within walking distance of the school. They also mentioned feeling closer to the industry after speaking with Alexion employees about personal success stories.
“Walking around the facility helped me realize that we don’t learn these details just for a degree,” Urabena Ofori-Amo, a grade 10 biology student, told the paper. “We’re doing it someday to find cures and help the wounded. It’s easier to remember this when we really see what we’re learning.”
Five students interviewed by Al-Akhbar reported feeling a greater personal investment in STEM after the field trip. Every student interviewed agreed that they now find more value in the “behind the scenes” work they do in class.
Grade 11 students Elijah Cohen and Chance Moore comment on receiving an increased amount of high-level practical academic support at the school across subjects, which they report has created a sense of community previously lacking.
Class 11 classmate Shanjae Phillips also praised their science education so far, noting that the “friendly and thorough” teaching allowed them to enjoy their courses.
Additionally, Year 10 student Candace Cox discussed the institutional differences between the Hill Regional Career High School and her former high school, saying she enjoys the more in-depth explanations her current teachers provide.
“Never before have I been asked to think about science in such depth,” Cox told The News. “Sure, the classes are challenging at times, but they explain the material better than a textbook or video.”
While only at the beginning of the STEMM curriculum transition, both faculty and students remain optimistic about future endeavors, from further modifications in the curriculum to upcoming career prospects.
In total, 21 students attended the Alexion field trip with Dr. Ngo and Ken.