If Shawn Flanagan’s instincts as an educator prove to be prophetic, there could be some budding Nobel Prize winners in his senior biomedical innovations class at Newark High School.
Flanagan, a state-certified paramedic and director of junior membership for Newark Emergency Medical Services, implemented the four-year program at NHS. He encouraged six seniors to use their critical thinking skills and propose creative solutions to major medical challenges in the modern world.
The students recently unveiled their proposed innovations before Flanagan, their classmates and a panel of evaluators that featured administrators, teachers and former students.
Evaluators were representatives from the school and medical communities, including Matt Cook, superintendent; Mark Eakins, a NHS social studies teacher; Suzanne Earl, board member for Newark Central School District and Newark-Wayne Community Hospital; Christopher Lozada, an emergency medical technician from Newark EMS; and Sarinah Hernandez, a nursing student at Finger Lakes Community College and NHS biomedical sciences graduate.
Marcus Zambito proposed the design of a cardiac sleeve that could act as an internal CPR device when heart function is not present, eliminating the gap between arrest and EMS arrival.
Landon Berrios proposed a self-filtering bottle that would filter contaminated water. It could serve as an intermediary device between a filtrating straw and a large filtration unit.
Sydney Salone proposed new medication that would combine a cardiac muscle strengthening medicine with a statin to control and prevent coronary artery disease.
Ashley Watrous proposed experimentation with restriction enzymes, guided by radioactive tags to cancer cells, to destroy the DNA of the cells and render healthy cells undamaged.
Alex Caraballo and Greg Bremer proposed the design of a kid-friendly glucometer/insulin pump for preadolescent children with diabetes. Rather than relying on a child’s understanding of numbers, blood sugars and insulin levels, the glucometer would use happy and frown faces to relay glucose readings and feature colored buttons to administer insulin.
In some instances, students employed PowerPoint presentations and/or drawings related to their proposals. Flanagan invited classmates and evaluators to ask questions after each presentation.
“The students worked hard, not only researching the challenges that will face them as health care professionals in the 21st century, but coming up with possible solutions to those challenges,” Flanagan said. “Their ideas are great ones and, with technological development over time, could become viable solutions.”
Evaluators said they enjoy coming into classrooms to see presentations like these, and that these presentations included innovative ideas to complex problems.
“Watching these young men and women present their scientific ideas about how to improve health care delivery was inspirational,” Cook said. “I am so proud of the hard work and passion that they have for this field.”
Flanagan’s students will include their proposals in biomedical portfolios that they developed for the past four years.