Governor's Health Science Academy to Benefit From State of the Art Mobile Facility
In fall of 2021, students of the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at our high school will have the use of a spectacular mobile facility designed to develop real-life medical career skills.
Titans enrolled in the Academy will benefit from an Immersive Learning Center — a 40-foot-long classroom/laboratory on wheels that will provide state-of-the-art technology, simulation, and immersive virtual reality and augmented learning experiences.
It comes thanks to a $700,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia to The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences which partnered with T.C. to establish the GHSA. The money will fund the new Community Medi-Corp Program of which this facility is the centerpiece.
Currently under design and construction, the mobile resource — which will rotate between ACPS, Fairfax County Public Schools and Arlington Public Schools — will allow an additional teaching space that will also benefit the health of the community. Students will be able to travel to practice their newly-acquired skills at city health events.
“This will be a wonderful additional resource for our students both to learn in as a classroom but also as a way to get out and implement skills in real life situations,” said Michele Coffman, Health Science Academy Coordinator.
Inside the wi-fi enabled vehicle will be a multitude of learning tools from crash carts to mannequins to stations for research to microscopes and blood pressure cuffs, a 3-D printer and laptops.
In some areas, students will be able to conduct laboratory experiments and research, other areas can be set up to receive visitors at community events.
One of the most exciting elements is the use of virtual and augmented reality equipment. Students will wear goggles programmed with software that allows them to take a 3D interactive view of the human body, perhaps peering into an organ for example or rotating a bone. Students can hold a stylus that when waved in front of the goggles turns into a scalpel or a pipette, allowing experiments to be conducted or dissections to be carried out.
All 20 laptops will also be programmed with 3D software that allows images to ‘jump’ out of the screen.
While only 20 students can use the lab at any given time, it is hoped lessons will be streamed into traditional classrooms.
While working on the mobile unit, another partnership was formed with the Biomedical Mentorship program. Through this program students in the GHSA will have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor in the field and work on a virtual research project.
The GHSA is an innovative partnership between GW and ACPS which was established in 2018 to respond to the region’s urgent need to expand training for high-demand health care careers, promote career pathways in health and STEM-focused fields.
The academy offers students numerous career and technical education pathways: in biomedical informatics, medical laboratory sciences, sports medicine, emergency medical services, nursing, and surgical technology. Academy students can earn up to 18 college credits from GW while in high school.
The academy’s first cohort of 85 students will graduate from high school in 2022. As many as 400 graduates are expected by 2025. Academy graduates earn their high school diplomas, career-related industry certifications, college credits for coursework, and guaranteed admission to various health professional programs at GW.
“We are excited to receive this grant and start work on the collaborative Community Medi-Corps Program and its Immersive Learning Center,” said Linda Zanin, EdD, director of strategic partnerships at SMHS. “This initiative will allow students to engage and work together to problem-solve, use virtual technology, and interact with experts in the life and health science fields.”
Dr. Zanin added, “Our industry, community, secondary, and higher education partners are committed to investing and supporting learning that connects students with real-life learning experiences, preparing them for higher education and the workforce. Our goal is to inspire youth to explore and connect, as we create tomorrow’s next generation of health care leaders.”