In this section, you’ll learn what healthcare concepts and skills you can teach with PLTW and HealthCenter21.
Healthcare Topics You Can Teach with Project Lead the Way
For middle school students, Project Lead the Way provides a curriculum called PLTW Gateway. The curriculum contains 10 units, each designed to help students to explore the different career pathways available to them.
In this unit, students “apply experimental design, creative thinking, and problem-solving to investigate the inner-workings of the human body, diagnose disease, and improve human health.”
The PLTW Medical Detectives unit has three lessons:
Mysteries of the Human Body
In Disease Detectives, students explore how medical professionals identify, treat, and prevent illness. This unit requires them to interpret vital signs, recognize infectious diseases, and carry out experiments with antibiotics and bacteria.
Students are also required to complete a project, in which they collect and analyze data to diagnose a patient with a mystery illness.
In Mysteries of the Human Body, students explore the body systems with a specific emphasis on the nervous system. After learning about the nervous system, students will examine dysfunctions in the nervous system and analyze causes.
As part of this lesson, students will perform in-class experiments, including a sheep brain dissection.
The lesson will culminate with students creating a resource to help a “patient” understand their medical condition.
Outbreak! involves a mock scenario in which students analyze symptoms and perform lab tests to identify how a dangerous toxin is spreading in the community.
The unit explores the students’ problem-solving skills as they review information presented via lab data, patient histories, and more to determine the toxin source.
Overall, HealthCenter21 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a health science curriculum that aligns with your standards and can prepare your students for various certifications.
Project Lead the Way vs. HealthCenter21: What is the Instructional Format?
The way that PLTW and HealthCenter21 are developed and delivered to students vastly differs.
Depending on your teaching preferences, classroom setup, and how your students learn best, you may find one works better than the other in your classroom.
Project Lead the Way’s Instructional Format
PLTW uses a blended learning approach in which students learn new concepts and then apply their knowledge to hands-on tasks that help to consolidate those concepts.
The Medical Detectives unit is heavily focused on in-class demonstrations and projects, so to successfully deliver the program, you will need to purchase specific lab equipment from PLTW.
HealthCenter21’s Instructional Format
HealthCenter21 is developed using a blended learning approach, with a mixture of teacher- and student-led learning. This helps to maximize student understanding and information retention while saving teachers time with planning.
The Explore phase consists of teacher-led class activities, classroom discussions, and teacher presentations.
In the Learn & Practice phase, students work through eLearning lessons, which include videos, inline questions, drag-and-drop activities, decision-making scenarios, and other interactive learning experiences.
This phase also includes worksheets and guided notes to help students retain information.
The Reflect phase is teacher-led, with activities designed to help your students review and discuss the module’s concepts.
In the Reinforce phase, your students will work through self-directed activities and projects, allowing them to enhance their understanding of the concepts and skills in the module and consolidate learning.
Overall, HealthCenter21’s instructional format is a great fit if you wish to implement a blended learning environment that facilitates better understanding and retention of information.
Project Lead the Way vs. HealthCenter21: Who is the Intended Audience and Age Level?
When choosing a middle school health science curriculum, it’s crucial that the materials align with the age of your students.
If a curriculum isn’t relevant and appropriate for middle schoolers, it won’t keep them engaged and help them hit their learning objectives.
Project Lead the Way’s Intended Audience and Age Level
The PLTW Gateway curriculum is designed for students in grades 6-8. However, it’s important to look at the PLTW Medical Detectives unit in isolation to understand how it truly aligns with your students' learning level.
Most of the content within the Medical Detectives unit is suitable for grades 6-8.
But, it’s worth noting that some of the hands-on lab work, such as the sheep brain dissection, may be too intense for some of the younger students.
This will be at your discretion as a teacher.
Overall, PLTW is a great option for middle school students in grades 6-8. However, some of the hands-on activities may not be suitable for younger middle school grades.