by Alvin Wilbanks
CEO/Superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools
The issue of healthcare has ignited vigorous debate on the national scene, but in the education world, it has generated a lot of positive excitement among students as young as middle schoolers. Thanks to innovative partnerships with postsecondary institutions, medical centers and private companies, Gwinnett County Public Schools is exposing many students to promising career opportunities in the bioscience and health science fields.
At Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST), bioscience is one of three areas of study, along with engineering and emerging technologies. Students who choose bioscience take courses in advanced genetics, biochemical engineering, Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry, and analytical forensic investigation (think "CSI"). Their studies take them to Georgia Tech”s nanotechnology labs, or to Skidaway Island to study marine biology. In their AP biology course they experiment with DNA fingerprinting, work in physiology labs and study biological enzyme activity. Students also learn and apply engineering principles as they study disabilities and how "assistive technology" can make life easier and safer for people with physical challenges.
The academic program at GSMST is enhanced by real-world experience in area hospitals and medical schools. Forty students in this year”s junior class are participating in internships with organizations including Gwinnett Medical Center, Emory School of Medicine, Yerkes National Research Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, Grady Hospital and Centro de Diagnosticos Anatomo-Patologicos in Brazil.