Posted at: 11/19/2012 9:46 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 10:12 PM
By: Dietrich Nissen
(ABC 6 News) -- A Southeast Minnesota school district is now the first in the state to get national certification in three different areas of science and engineering.
On Monday night representatives from "Project Lead The Way" recognized the Kingsland school district in Spring Valley. Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit which promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculums.
School officials say certification means students are not only learning about the biomedical science and engineer industries, they're also earning college credit for it. In fact, Kingsland is the only school district in the state to be certified for biomedical science.
After taking biomedical science courses this year, Kingsland High School senior, Martina Hadlund, now plans to become a nurse.
“I don't know. I wanted to be a flight attendant and then I just changed my mind, because I was open to a new experience," says Haldund.
Her classmate, Sarah O'Connell, says the new courses help her toward her dream of becoming an oncologist.
"It'll help me get like a general overview of like how the body works and the different tests that they perform and stuff," says O'Connell.
The friends are two of more than 300 students taking part in the new Project Lead The Way curriculums.
"I thought it was pretty hands-on. I like it a lot," says Hadlund.
"It's not bad yet but I think it's going to get harder," says O'Connell.
Kingsland high school's principal, Jim Hecimovich, says the courses range from engineering, which include robotics and computer programming, to the biomedical sciences which involve blood analysis and learning how the human body functions.
"We're hoping to become a feeder for not only just the biomedical piece but the biomedical engineering side of it. there's a lot more behind the scenes then the nurse of the doctor," says Hecimovich.
He says students may earn up to 60 credits by the time they graduate meaning they can almost complete a two year college degree while still in high school.
"There is an exit exam that they can study for similar to an Advanced Placement course. But it's a one-shot at the end and if they pass the exam they can be awarded college credit," says Hecimovich.
"Right now there's a huge urgency from us, as a country, to start preparing more students to go into these different STEM related degrees and programs," says Project Lead The Way’s Vice President of Engagement, Thor Misko.
"It's a little different but it's- it's a really good class," says O'Connell.
The Kingsland school district spent more than $70,000 dollars to get this curriculum up and running. Project Lead The Way is in 4,200 schools nationwide this year. The nonprofit says its trained more than 10,000 teachers in its curriculum.