Steve Schlarman

Special guest

I am a former plant genetics researcher with the USDA. I got there, despite struggling to grasp memorized concepts in basic biology courses, earning a D in biology in high school. Memorizing was not my thing.

However, what I did thrive in was applying concepts and coming up with hypothetical problems to solve, which lead me to research. I was never really interested in plants, but the atmosphere of people supporting each other and collaborating on projects made an impact on me.

I left research because A) I knew this was something I had to share, that there was a different way to teach biological sciences that could be skills-based and student-oriented, and B) I missed working with people (there were only 5 people in my lab, and I was the low-end of the totem pole).

This is my 10th year teaching, my second district, and I've taught every core science subject, but it wasn't until I started teaching with Project Lead the Way that I really became more passionate in education. PLTW is a company that provides a project-based curriculum for biomedical science, computer science, and engineering. I am lucky to be able to teach the biomedical science track for all four years of high school, where students start out solving a hypothetical death based on forensic evidence as freshmen... all the way to designing their own biomedical devices as seniors. By the time they've spent 4 years with me (if they choose to complete the whole track), they will have learned anatomy, physiology, cellular and microbiology, biochemistry, and forensics, with clinical applications or lab techniques for every topic.

I now absolutely love my job. I couldn't say that before MCP and PLTW. I liked it, but now I am soulmates with my job. I am a lab manager and a teacher all rolled into one.

The MCP helps me meet my students at their individual needs and makes my teaching much more intentional. I can now assess my students and be more certain that they will earn college credit for their efforts in my classroom. Some even earn scholarships for their research projects.

Steve Schlarman has been a guest on 1 episode.