Seton Keough’s science and engineering breaking down barriers

If women are going to have a role in the future, Seton Keough High School is making sure its students will be leading the way.

The all-girls Baltimore school recently unveiled new biomedical and engineering classrooms, which were dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden Oct. 4.

The school’s Women in Science Program has a partnership with St. Agnes Hospital, the Knott Foundation, France Merrick Foundation and local engineering firms.

The partners provide speakers, teacher mentoring, career shadowing and senior-year internships. On top of that, they will assist in providing grants and scholarships for students who desire to study engineering and science in college.

Seton Keough is working with Project Lead the Way, a non-profit organization that promotes science and technology studies in middle and high schools. Specific curriculum components and professional development for teachers are provided by Project Lead the Way, according to Seton Keough.

Seton Keough’s curriculum was designed to start with freshmen at the school, but allowed sophomores to take part in the first-year introductory class if they take an extra class this summer to compensate for a year lost in the program. Seton Keough expects that by their senior years, the students will have a mastery of the subjects.

“So far, so good,” engineering teacher Bill Mason said. “The Project Lead the Way courses are a big deal in Maryland.”

Students from all-boys Cardinal Gibbons are attending the biomedical and engineering classes offered at Seton Keough.

Biomedical teacher Rebecca Emrich and Mason took two-week certification courses at local colleges for Project Lead the Way. Both say the implementation has been a revelation.

“It has given me the opportunity to get back to the basics of science and just improving my general teaching,” Emrich said. “The curriculum is put together very thoughtfully. The activities that we do really meet the students where they are and push them to go further.”

All-girls Institute of Notre Dame, of Baltimore, also recently announced it too had partnered with Project Lead the Way and that 16 freshmen are enrolled in their biomedical class.

Seton Keough’s biomedical classroom is dedicated to Dr. Lynn Freeze, a 1986 graduate of the school who was later killed in a car accident.

The Women in Science program hopes to break down barriers.

“It’s a good opportunity to show these young ladies that they can succeed in engineering,” said Mason, a retired naval officer. “Engineering has typically been stereotyped as a man’s profession. That’s far from the truth.”

This year, two sections are being taught in both the biomedical and engineering classes.

The courses are meant to be an elective compliment to the science and math classes already being taught at Seton Keough.

“They really are being immersed in science,” Emrich said.

Students are responding to the challenge.

“This is really getting into specifics of the job I want to do,” said Erin Manuel, a biomedical student and aspiring veterinarian.”It’s really cool because I’m thinking way ahead to college now.”

Gabriela Castro, a freshman biomedical student, said a dissection of a heart was exhilarating.

“I really like the program,” she said. “It’s really fascinating and we learn something new every day.”

Engineering students went on a field trip to a construction firm and also listened to a talk by women engineers.

Kate Tennant, a sophomore, said: “We get a lot of opportunities to learn about everything.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.