Middle school health science is becoming one of the most popular new subject areas in the country.
While health science is only available in post-secondary schools in most districts, some have taken the initiative to start health science education as young as sixth grade.
But why has this trend started? And what should teachers use in middle school health science programs, anyway?
We’ll answer all of that (and more) on this page, complete with the real-world experience of middle school health science teachers!
Why Did This Trend Start?
While there’s no hard-and-fast answer to this question, the most likely answer is that students who complete CTE courses do significantly better in school than those who don’t.
Students who take CTE courses don’t just stay in CTE either!
Many go on to start jobs right out of high school. Others may attend a specialized career and technical school for post-secondary education.
Still others may even go to a four-year college to pursue a more specialized version of the CTE courses they took!
Another reason for this trend is the dire need for healthcare professionals in the United States.
In 2019, 11 of the 20 fastest-growing jobs in the country were in the healthcare industry.
They weren’t doctors or surgeons either — these jobs have titles like home health aide, emergency medical technician, and medical assistant.
The requirements for those jobs are all at the CTE level. In fact, many students only need to complete end-of-pathway certifications to show that they have the background needed to thrive in those jobs.
Finally, Perkins V — the latest version of federal CTE funding — had its biggest increase ever in 2019. It also lowered the minimum grade qualification for funding to fifth grade.
That means middle school students across the country are eligible to take health science courses as young as 12.
These are just three reasons, but they’re big reasons. Health science instructors and administrators have noticed all of these in their work, and they’re acting on those observations.
One of the results is the middle school health science program.
So what should you use in a middle school health science program?
Some of the most dedicated middle school health science teachers told us their approaches.
Example #1. Mark Rodgers at Jupiter Middle School
Mark Rodgers teaches more than 100 students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade out of Jupiter Middle School in Florida.
He uses a mix of classroom resources in a blended learning environment to help students learn everything they need to know.
The resources he uses include:
- AES health science curriculum
- Human Atlas (zSpaces)
- Healthcare Science Technology: Career Foundations (McGraw Hill)
- Anatomy, Physiology, and Disease: An Interactive Journey for Health Professionals (Pearson)
- Health Science Fundamentals: Exploring Career Pathways (Pearson)
Mark uses the first two classroom resources at every grade level. He uses AES health science curriculum to help students learn material before they come to class.
He also uses it for remediation, student engagement, lesson planning, and even meeting Florida state standards.
”My kids use AES everywhere. They like AES because they can do this on their own and they can be in there as often as they want, so they’ve got everything they need at their fingertips.”
In addition, Mark uses Human Atlas for hands-on learning with demonstration models.
In regard to textbooks, Mark’s sixth graders get Healthcare Science Technology, seventh graders have Anatomy, Physiology, and Disease, and eighth graders use Health Science Fundamentals
Altogether, this creates a one-of-a-kind environment where Mark’s students can learn, thrive, and prepare for more in-depth health science education in high school!
You can read the rest of Mark’s story in his case study.
Example #2. Tyler Page of Brantley County Middle School
When Tyler Page started teaching health science in middle school, he wanted to provide the best possible experience for his students.
However, as a devoted husband and the father of two young children, he also wanted to spend time with his growing family.
So when Tyler got a textbook or two to help him start his classes, he knew he was going to need something more to get the job done.
Today, Tyler only uses the AES health science curriculum. It helps him plan lessons, accommodate IEPs, and introduce his students to blended learning.
On top of all of that, Tyler says AES’s digital health science curriculum is the big reason why he can get home to his family every day.
”With AES, the amount of time I spend with lesson plans has been cut in half. Being married and having two small children, I’m headed home at 3:30 to play with my kids. It has given me back family time.”
Tyler says he uses AES to fill 60 classes every semester, and each class lasts 45 minutes. When students aren't on the computer, Tyler has them work on group work and scenarios that he finds in the Reinforce section of AES's curriculum.
In addition, Tyler says that AES is the only resource he's found that lets him adequately teach middle school aged students.
"I went a whole year without [AES], and it was a lot harder. You can't get healthcare lessons from Google. It took me forever to find AES. No other resource does what you do."
With 15 desktop computers, 12 iPads, and 125 new students every semester, Tyler has started teaching his students to Georgia state standards as early as seventh grade!
It's also noteworthy that Brantley County High School — the next stop for Tyler's eighth graders — graduates more certified nursing assistants (CNA) than any neighboring county in Georgia.
Tyler humbly doesn't take credit for that accomplishment.
But when you have a health science program that starts in seventh grade, it's easy to connect the dots!
You can read the rest of Tyler’s story in his case study.
Example #3. Marta Galvez of Lake Worth Middle School
Marta Galvez is a distinguished educator in the School District of Palm Beach County. With multiple awards and nominations decorating her career, we at AES consider it an honor that she uses our digital curriculum systems in the classroom among her other resources!
Marta’s classroom is one of the best-equipped health science spaces in the state. Her list of classroom resources includes some incredible equipment, including:
- Hospital beds
- Fake IV bags
- IV stands
- Stethoscopes and other medical tools
- AES digital curriculum
Marta’s classroom layout is clearly focused on the practical side of health science education.
There, she can teach students all of the basics on what they’ll encounter in a real medical facility.
With lifelike dummies to imitate patients, she can even address patient care needs in the most realistic simulations possible.
All of this equipment is available to her students before they ever step foot in a high school!
Because she has all of the physical resources she needs, Marta wanted a digital health science resource that’d work with her teaching style.
That’s why she picked up AES.
Her students primarily use AES digital curriculum for reinforcement and remediation needs.
That’s because AES is accessible 24/7 wherever students have an Internet connection.
So if they need to brush up on something before a major exam, they can go to the website, doublecheck their knowledge, and prepare themselves for the assessment!
Marta noticed that this strategy brought a few nice side effects with it.
Namely, students were much more engaged and interested in the non-practical material that she taught.
That increased engagement led to better learning and understanding all around, ensuring Marta’s students can start their journeys to their future careers as early as middle school.
To read the rest of Marta’s story, check out her case study!
Example #4. Bianca Rodriguez of Henderson Middle School
Bianca Rodriguez created her middle school health science curriculum from scratch.
In the 2018-2019 school year, Bianca designed her first-year pilot that would determine whether her program would proceed.
She used everything she could find to help her students learn during the year — hand-me-downs from the high school health science program, AES's digital curriculum, and a few other odds and ends.
It may not sound like much, but Bianca has used all of her resources to the fullest extent.
She's responsible for teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, which amounts to a lot of students every marking period. Plus, because she teaches in El Paso, Bianca has a high number of ELL students.
To top it all off, she's also responsible for teaching special populations.
Needless to say, that's a lot for a first-year health science program at a middle school!
Bianca handles this by using AES's health science curriculum for the heavy lifting in her classroom.
Sixth graders focus on health career exploration, seventh graders focus on anatomy and physiology, and eighth graders focus on medical terminology.
Bianca says that even though her eighth graders may be "too cool" to admit they enjoy learning from digital curriculum, the sixth and seventh graders love it!
ELL students enjoy it too, Bianca says. She prints out the pre-written transcripts for each module and presents them to her students so they can follow along with the English narration.
For special populations, Bianca "chunks" the curriculum into more manageable pieces to help with long-term information retention.
The only hiccup that Bianca has encountered with her students is clinicals. Generally, health science students must be 15 or 16 years old before they can perform clinicals.
As a result, her students simply don't qualify for that kind of education.
So Bianca got creative. She takes students to health facilities in her community
All in all, it's clear that Bianca has her hands full every day. But because she handles it with digital curriculum and a pragmatic approach to students with different needs, her program has been renewed for the 2019-2020 school year!
"AES has pretty much saved me this year... I just wish I had it sooner. I wish I had it at the start of the year."
With all of this experience, Bianca has some excellent advice for anyone else who has to start a middle school health science program.
- Plan. "Explore, get an idea, customize, and be patient."
- Go Slow. "These are not high school students. They need a little bit more time."
Over the past year, Bianca has created a successful middle school health science program that prepares her students for high school courses.
And she did it all with good old-fashioned teaching skills, intuition, and AES digital curriculum!
How Can You Start Your Middle School Health Science Program?
Do you find yourself in a similar situation to these teachers?
Do you need a health science curriculum that is appropriate and engaging for middle school students?
If so, consider looking into the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum.
Many well-established middle school health science programs use HealthCenter21 as a core piece of their curriculum.
Wondering if HealthCenter21 is a good fit for your needs? Discover more about the curriculum and how it can work in middle school courses: