HMS MEDscience is an innovative high school Biology course designed as a student-centered learning experience utilizing mannequin-based simulated clinical cases integrated with and supported by a rigorous didactic organ system curriculum. The program immerses students in realistic, dynamic, team-based, problem-solving and simulated medical emergencies. Our curriculum motivates students to think critically, communicate succinctly and work collaboratively in teams. Our goal is to inspire students in developing a passion for further education in STEM and health career professions.

Key Takeaways

  • Meet students at whatever skill set they bring to the table.

  • View every situation as having the potential to be a growth opportunity.

  • Guide students in recognizing how the skills they are developing in class can be transferred to other aspects of their lives.

Are there any specific strategies or language that you and your staff use to encourage effort and hard work and growth as opposed to innate skills or abilities?

Invest significant time training staff on how to promote effective effort – when all the staff consistently send the same message – “You can do this,” the cumulative impact is huge.


We begin with basic questions that hopefully any student could successfully answer such as, “Who has ever been a patient in a doctor’s office or hospital?” or “Why might you need to have stitches?”  Once they feel confident in their ability to participate successfully, we build on that. Another message is “hard work over time is how you get smarter”. We remind them of earlier classes so they can reflect back and see the growth and improvement.


We also engage students in a “debrief” after each class to recognize and identify improved skills, acknowledge student’s efforts, and help them process and articulate their learning for that day.

Could you speak a little bit about framing setbacks or wrong answers as growth opportunities as opposed to failures?

We look at every situation as a growth opportunity. Every circumstance. And you know, we’ve had kids say some crazy stuff.


Our two main class participation rules are: no wrong answers, and you don’t have to raise your hand. They can say basically anything, and we encourage all attempts. Our staff have been trained to praise effort, not right answers. Through carefully orchestrated scaffolding, we can help guide them to the right answer from there.


For instance, early in an emergency room case, students are asked to brainstorm possible diagnoses for a patient with a stomach ache, and we embrace all answers from a swallowed marble to cancer. Students are praised for taking the risk to make a guess. Then they work as a team using clinical information to rule possibilities in or out.


If we get a student to speak their opinion out loud for the first time, it’s only going to get better and better. Then there are students who just cannot call out, because that will make them uncomfortable. So what can they do to participate? Maybe, they can be the one to start an IV when it’s necessary, or write down possible diagnoses. We have them find their strength in doing a skill and maybe now becoming a leader, even if they are not comfortable being as vocal as other students. Then we try to show them how to take those skills with them, and turn that into what they are going to do in their lives. That’s the most important part.