Two dozen budding scientists just spent a week on the Shoreline Community College campus at the first ever Project Biotech.
“It was a huge success,” said Adrienne Houck, Amgen Biotech Experience outreach manager at the college. The camp, July 7-11, drew students ranging from graduating eight-graders to graduating high school seniors from schools around the Puget Sound region. “The students were terrific, very motivated. We packed a lot into the camp and they got a lot of experience in just five days.”
Houck said one student said after the first day that they’d done more hands-on lab work that day than in the previous year at high school. On the final day, another student, an incoming freshman, said she felt she was now four years ahead in just a week.
The camp was an exploration into the field of biotechnology and DNA sequencing. Campers got experience with DNA, DNA sequencing, polymerase chain reaction, electrophoresis, purification, data analysis and lab skills in pipetting. The camp sessions were primarily held in the college biotechnology lab classrooms.
The students also heard for panels of biotech industry representatives about career pathways. Industry sponsors included Amgen, Institute for Systems Biology, Dendreon, Illumina, Novo Nordisk, Amnis and Travel Leaders. While the cost of the weeklong camp was $400 per student, donations by industry partners and others provided funding assistance for students in need.
Parents, family members, school advisors and others attended a culminating session on the final afternoon. The students worked on a variety of lab projects during the week and then each gave poster and laboratory presentations during the culminating session.
Houck said she, biotechnology program director Guy Hamilton and others are already talking about how to build on the success of this initial effort. “There are a lot of students interested in this area and there is a need in the biotech industry,” Houck said.
Other partcipants included Dina Kovarik, Ph.D, from the Institute for Systems Biology, and Reitha S. Weeks, Ph.D, biotechnology educator an outreach coordinator.