Assistant Medical Examiner Training Program- A Comprehensive PBL for High School Anatomy (or Forensics) Classes!


How Do I Keep My Students Engaged At The End of The Year?  How About Training To Be Assistant Medical Examiners?

It seems like every school year…. I flip the calendar to May and my students start thinking school is out (even though we have 3 weeks left usually!). I’ve never heard such complaining!  So, this year, I was determined to keep them engaged until Finals time without using all my “usual” methods to review.  What better way to create minds-on engagement than having them participate in a little “friendly competition” for a (make believe lol) job?

The Road to Becoming An Assistant Medical Examiner

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I also teach Forensic Science.  Students just LOVE the subject and it’s typically easy to keep them engaged.  However, I also teach Anatomy & Physiology that is the pre-requisite to my Forensics class (or it is at my school, it might not be everywhere else) and it can sometimes be a little more difficult to keep them interested, especially if they’re not really interested in nursing as a career.  So this year, I decided to combine the two disciplines into a Project-Based Learning activity that I could use with either class—> Anatomy, as a year-end review of the most important course objectives and Forensics, as a beginning of the year review of Anatomy concepts they should’ve learned in the pre-requisite course.

The PBL Story Line

The story line for this PBL centers on competition between student teams for an opportunity to land a job with the Medical Examiner’s Office.  Students must complete an Assistant Medical Examiner Training Program by completing Modules and defending their portfolio to the Medical Examiner.  I have them keep all of their information in a file folder to make it feel more realistic.  img_0374

They even have the opportunity to receive an “official” certificate when they finish all of their tasks! img_0371

I realize that many of my Anatomy students do not know some of the vocabulary terms related to death and Forensics, so I included a “Death Vocabulary” glossary as well as an article for them to read (and answer questions) on interpreting Autopsy reports. I gave them a separate little matching quiz on the Death Vocabulary as a progress monitoring tool.

Because the first unit in Anatomy & Physiology is so heavy in memorization of content, I thought this PBL would be a fantastic opportunity to review things like body planes, directional terms, regional terms, body cavities and membranes, in addition to the abdominopelvic regions, the functions of each body system and the organs contained within each system.  I also wanted to make sure they could locate all of the major organs within the human body.  I tried to make their tasks authentic since I realize many of them simply memorized the information at the beginning of the course and probably do not remember it because they didn’t use it in context to something practical.  Here are some of the worksheets/tasks I developed for this PBL.  img_0373

We also used the kid’s game “Operation” in one of the Modules to review directional terminology as we performed an autopsy on a victim who had been electrocuted 🙂 img_3589

In another Module, we used light sabers and objects such as an apple or ball of clay to practice sectioning something along a particular plane.  The light sabers were so much fun!! If this PBL is something you’d like to purchase, I provided a Teacher’s Guide/ Helpful Hints section for every Module that includes ideas for Extension activities in addition to my Grading Rubric.  img_0377

I provided them with a Review Worksheet for the Organs/Systems and also quizzed them on it as a means of progress monitoring.  img_0379

If you’d like to purchase this PBL, it includes everything you will need to do this activity with your classes (except the “Operation” game and the light sabers 🙂 I got mine from Amazon for the best price).  It also includes my quizzes (& Review Worksheet) that you could use with the first Anatomy unit as a pretest and with this PBL at the end as a post-test. There are also several full page diagrams which could be useful in other units during the year as well. img_0372 Hopefully, this might give you some ideas to help engage your students at the end of the year!  If you’d like to purchase this entire PBL (all 59 pages!) with all the diagrams and worksheets, please visit my TpT store at

Hang in there!  The school year is almost over and Summer is just around the corner 🙂

Save 20% when you purchase the BUNDLE of BOTH projects!  See it here

About Edgy Instruction

Science Teacher (Biology, AP Biology, and Forensic Science), Anatomy Professor, and former Instructional coach.
This entry was posted in activity, Anatomy & Physiology, Forensics, Project Based Learning PBL, Strategies, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Assistant Medical Examiner Training Program- A Comprehensive PBL for High School Anatomy (or Forensics) Classes!

  1. Pingback: The Complicated Patient: An Authentic PBL for High School Anatomy | Edgy Instruction

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