Biomedical course teaches students about diseases

Using a variety of items, students in Jose Escalante’s principles of biomedical science class at Permian High School are learning about diabetes.

A class of his principles of biomedical science year I students showed Escalante their projects earlier this week. Among other things, Escalante will teach students about sickle cell disease, DNA mutations, heart problems, heart structure, infectious diseases and finishing with a final autopsy.

They previously covered forensics, Escalante said. His classes range in size from 23 to 27.

The materials the students used for their projects had to be available at home, Dollar Tree, or very cheaply. He also provided some supplies in class.

“They couldn’t go anywhere and get anything pre-made. They had to make everything themselves,” Escalante said.

While teaching integrated physics and chemistry last year in Crane, Escalante said he had students make clean water out of salt water. He said the projects this year, as with last, are very project based learning oriented.

He said he talks to the class for five to seven minutes and then goes around to check on their progress.

Students were divided into groups of three to five made up of people they know and people they aren’t familiar with.

Sophomores Bindika Patel, 15, and Natalia Abila, 16, knew each other but weren’t close. Their project showed how diabetes works inside the body using mini pom poms, pipe cleaners and other craft items.

“It shows how diabetes works inside our bodies, but in a three-D project,” Patel said.

“I knew what all it included: the pancreas, the receptor, the glucose, transport protein, the cell membrane,” Patel said.

She said they talked about the path Type I and Type II diabetes take in the body during class.

Arlet Teran, Salma Alfonso, Neftaly Melchor and Gio Renacia were in one group.

Teran said it was really cool to work on the project and she was able to pick up scientific terms.

“I like it, too, because you get to be with your partners and friends and participate in a project and then just show them what to do and how to do it,” Saul Rodriguez said.

Alfonso said the class has helped her a lot.

“I did not get it at all, but then this project actually did help me understand it a little bit better,” Alfonso said.

Melchor said the course is fun.

“We do a lot of collaborating and we have a good teacher. He’s very understanding and he’s very good at explaining. He just makes this class very easy and it’s a very fun class. I like being in this class,” Melchor said.

Renacia said he learned the concepts ahead of time because his parents were nurses at Medical Center Hospital.

Ruth Campbell covers education for the Odessa American. Reach her at 432-333-7765 or 432-333-7765 or

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