Biomed III Research & Opportunities
This year is the first time that Biomed III has been offered at BSM. It is the last of the cumulative series of Biomedical classes, and it is much different than the past two courses. The class is research based, and if anyone knows anything about research, there’s a lot that could go wrong. So far, we have had a few hiccups but nothing that we didn’t expect.
There are seven students in the first-time class this year, most of whom worked their way up from levels one and two of the Biomed program. Unlike the past few years, Biomed III is about as unstructured of a class as possible in a high school setting. In this class, we have the freedom to explore our interests.
At the end of Biomed II, we had to brainstorm research topics and could partner with someone if we wanted to do so. Coming into this year, the class is structured with two pairs and three single researchers. Our projects cover a range of topics including engineering prosthetics, designing self-powering skin to cover prosthetics, crafting and patenting a more kid-friendly injection device for juvenile arthritis, creating tests to diagnose cancer and conducting a study to observe the effects of increased sleep on high school students’ test scores. For most, the work started over the summer with research in medical journals and meeting experts in the field for advice in drafting a research proposal. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a doctor at the University of Minnesota Sleep Center who has been very helpful.
The goal of the class is to submit the research proposal and any collected data to a science competition in February. There are several requirements for entering the competition including filling out certain forms that address ethical concerns. Anyone working with biological material, like the group trying to find a diagnostic tool for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, filled out a form stating that they have discussed the implications with a qualified scientist in the same field as their research. In order to begin the sleep study, which is my project, I had to fill out forms regarding human participation and safety. Every group also had to undergo an Internal Review Board, or IRB, to get the approval of their administration.
I won’t lie, the class is a lot of work! For most of us, it was our first time doing research of any kind. And while I still plan to pursue a career in medicine, I now know it will not be on the research side. We have the guidance of our teacher Ms. Kirsten Hoogenakker who helps us talk through our problems, but the class is purposefully structured so that every project is student-led. We have to learn new things and rely on outside input for the success of our projects. As a result, we make mistakes. In the end though, the pride that one feels in having led biomedical research as a high school student, even if the project didn’t turn out exactly as one expected, is well worth the blood, sweat and tears.