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Bringing “The Outside” Into the Classroom in Texas

In a career spanning over twenty years, Patrick Matous has taught just about every science class—AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Environmental Science.


To boot, Matous has taught international baccalaureate classes and has coached three different high school sports. But as a teacher at Biomedical Sciences Academy at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club, Texas, he is “The Outlier.”



That's because the other teachers that make up the Academy—including a nurse, an athletic trainer, a dental hygienist—all have experience as professionals in the medical industry.


Matous, by his own admission, is just a “science teacher, by trade.”


The academy is a rigorous multi-year program that offers coursework and opportunities to students interested in careers in health sciences.


How does it work? At the academy, housed within Byron Nelson High School and made possible by Project Lead the Way, students take one single-block class per day with Matous and company.


The courses have a specific focus (second-year students will take Human Body Systems, for example, and third-year students will take Medical Interventions). For the remaining seven blocks that make up the school day, participants rejoin the rest of the student body at Byron Nelson, which serves around 3,000 students.


In Matous´ classes, there is a key player involved in student learning: the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System MANIKEN® models. At the outset of the class, students assign name, gender, and receive an official birth certificate for their personal MANIKEN® model. Soon, they are building anatomy from the inside out working to build tissue and organs of the ten body systems.


After shaping tissues and organs with their hands, they gain an intricate understanding of each system and appreciation of how different systems interact and affect one another.


Along the way, Matous encourages his students to document their progress. For this school year (spoiler alert!), Matous’ is planning final project that calls for students to create a montage video of a completed, clay-filled model to show the progress from start to finish.


For Matous, it is important that his students be successful, with passion and purpose.

The MANIKEN® models “give students opportunities to be inquisitive about the body, to learn, and to ask questions.”


Central to Matous’ teaching philosophy is “bringing the outside into the classroom,” so that students have an idea how to use their education after school. Most academy students, according to Matous, come into the classroom already having an idea of what they want to do. “It is incumbent on us to make sure as we move through that learning process, that they recognize what that is going to require.”


For some students at the Biomedical Sciences Academy, the “after” includes volunteering, interning, or even working at the two hospital systems in the local area. Others go on to continue study at schools like Texas A&M, University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, and TCU, taking with them their unique knowledge and hands-on learning experience.

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