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Health Science | High School

Best High School Health Science Curriculum: PLTW vs. HealthCenter21

July 13th, 2022 | 7 min. read

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There are many options out there to help you build a high school health science curriculum, and each one is designed to fit different needs. Because of this, health science teachers need to be certain they find the right program for their classes.

As a digital curriculum provider, thousands of health science teachers use the AES HealthCenter21 system every year. However, our solution may not be the best fit for everyone.

When working with health science teachers, they often ask how HealthCenter21 compares to other curriculum options, such as Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

Though Project Lead the Way and HealthCenter21 are both high school health science curriculum, one may be better for your classroom than the other.

To help you decide, we’ll answer the most common questions about Project Lead the Way and HealthCenter21:

  • What topics are covered?
  • What is the instructional format?
  • Who is the intended audience?

You’ll also have the opportunity to sign up for a free trial of HealthCenter21 to determine if it’s right for you and your students.

1. What Topics Are Covered?


When choosing a curriculum resource, one of the most important considerations is whether or not it meets your standards and the topics you need to teach.

In this section, you’ll learn what healthcare information and skills you can teach with PLTW and HealthCenter21.

Topics You Can Teach with PLTW

The high school health science curriculum is referred to as the “PLTW Biomedical Science program.” The underlying theme across the program is “learning and growing by investigating medical mysteries.”

This program is made up of four year-long courses:

  1. Principles of Biomedical Science - introduction to the world of biomedical science
  2. Human Body Systems - in-depth coursework on how the human body’s systems work
  3. Medical Interventions - teaches students how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases
  4. Biomedical Innovations - students using their knowledge and skills to take on “medical missions” and solve problems in health care

The courses are meant to be taught in this specific sequence, as each one builds on the knowledge students gained in the previous courses.

If you’re looking for a curriculum focused on biomedical topics, PLTW will likely be a great option for your program.

Topics You Can Teach with HealthCenter21

HealthCenter21 includes more than 1,000 hours of learning content for you to build your customized class curriculum.

Unlike PLTW, with HealthCenter21 you can mix and match AES modules based on the specific skills and concepts you need to cover, without restrictions.

HealthCenter21 modules are grouped into topics under nine overarching areas:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Healthcare Foundations
  • Health Career Readiness
  • Patient Care Technician
  • Medical Office Assistant
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Medical Assistant
  • Emergency Medical Responder
  • Emergency Medical Technician

With the wide range of topics available, HealthCenter21 can help teachers from many states hit their standards and teach their classes.

Additionally, HealthCenter21 can help you prepare students for a number of industry certifications, including:

If you’re looking for a health science curriculum that helps hit your standards and can prepare your students for a variety of healthcare certifications, HealthCenter21 is an excellent choice.

2. What Is the Instructional Format?


When implementing a new curriculum resource, it’s also important that the instructional format works well for your teaching style and classroom set up.

You also want to make sure that your curriculum helps you present information so that your students learn best.

PLTW’s In-Class Instructional Format

Each course offered by PLTW includes resources for a variety of teaching strategies ranging from classroom activities to hands-on skills to work with real medical equipment.

The instructional format of PLTW is heavily focused on in-class demonstrations and projects. This is a good way for teachers to provide hands-on practice opportunities and gain experience with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs.

The downside to the hands-on format includes the need for lab equipment for your entire class. While PLTW assists with ordering supplies, it takes more time to prepare over a digital curriculum system that allows instant access.

The HealthCenter21 Instructional Format

Each module within HealthCenter21 is designed according to our four-phase learning plan to maximize student retention while saving you time with curriculum planning.

The four phases of the AES curriculum are:

  1. Explore
  2. Learn & Practice
  3. Reflect
  4. Reinforce

In the Explore phase, you’ll find teacher-led class activities, classroom discussions, and teacher presentations.

In the Learn & Practice phase, your students log into the system and work through interactive lessons.

These self-paced lessons are presented in a multi-page style that includes videos, inline questions, drag-and-drop activities, decision-making scenarios, and other interactive learning experiences.

As students work through the curriculum, they can fill out worksheets and guided notes to help retain information.

In the Reflect phase, you’ll lead the class with activities that are designed to help your students review and discuss the concepts from the module.

In the Reinforce phase, your students will work through self-directed activities and projects to enhance their understanding of the module’s concepts and skills.

Overall, HealthCenter21’s instructional format is designed to help you quickly implement a blended learning environment that leads to better understanding and retention of information.

If you’re looking for a resource that balances teacher-led and student-directed learning, HealthCenter21 is a good fit.

3. Who Is the Intended Audience?


When choosing a high school health science curriculum, the final factor you should consider is the resource’s intended audience.

If a curriculum isn’t relevant and appropriate for your students, it won’t be as successful in helping them prepare for their future careers.

PLTW’s Intended Audience

PLTW’s biomedical science courses are specifically designed to be used sequentially throughout your students’ 9-12 grades.

You have the option to only purchase one course, but since the lessons build off of each other, it may not be the best experience for you or your students.

Additionally, the courses are designed with the potential of being taught in tandem with AP science courses.

If your school is implementing a four-year biomedical science program, then PLTW could be just what you’re looking for!

However, if your health science program is focused on preparing students for industry certifications, this might not be the right resource for you.

HealthCenter21’s Intended Audience

HealthCenter21 is designed to be used in CTE middle and high school health science courses.

Depending on what grade level you teach, your courses, and how you want to implement the curriculum, the recommended modules will vary.

If you teach a high school course, you’d likely include more advanced topics such as anatomy and physiology, bloodborne pathogens, emergency care, and behavioral health.

For specific recommendations of learning modules for high school classes, read our guide: What Courses Can I Teach with HealthCenter21?

When implementing HealthCenter21, the AES team can help you determine which modules best align with your needs based on the classes you teach and any certifications you’re focused on.

Which High School Health Science Curriculum is Right for You?

Deciding between PLTW and HealthCenter21 ultimately depends on your needs and goals.

PLTW is a comprehensive 4-year biomedical program that gives students hands-on projects and demonstrations. So, if you’re most concerned with building a biomedical science program that allows your students to work with industry-standard tools, PLTW would likely fill that need.

HealthCenter21 allows you more flexibility in your teaching methods and provides more interactive, self-directed ways for your students to learn information and prepare for certifications.

If you teach a CTE health science program that prepares students for healthcare certifications and careers, HealthCenter21 would better align with those needs.

Does HealthCenter21 sound like a good solution to you? Sign up for your free HealthCenter21 trial to determine if it’s right for you and your students:

Start Your Free Trial