Dozens of area high school students have biotechnology on the brain after attending Shoreline Community College’s fourth annual PROJECT BIOTECH summer camps. The week-long camps are designed to provide 9-12th graders with an advanced introduction into the fast-growing field of biotechnology with unique, hands-on lab and computer activities and exposure to industry, academic, and non-profit career options.
“The Seattle area leads the biotechnology field with a multitude of top employers in the industry right in our backyard,” said Dina Kovarik, PhD, Director of the Biotechnology Lab Specialist program at Shoreline. “PROJECT BIOTECH is an exciting opportunity for high school students interested in biotech to not only engage in lab learning but also meet and get inspired by local scientists and envision themselves in STEM careers.”
Each of the three week-long camps had a different focus, with week one serving as an introduction to essential biotechnology techniques including a review of the basics of DNA. Lab activities included DNA extraction, fluorescent protein cloning in bacteria, polymerase chain reaction, and DNA sequence analysis.
Week two’s focus was on biotechnology and infectious disease and introduced students to advanced lab techniques to diagnose infectious disease and investigate outbreaks.
In week three, students applied biotechnology to environmental issues, such as the effects of ocean acidification and human activities on sea life. Students used DNA sequencing to identify food sources for Orca whales and protein assays to analyze Orca stress hormones.
Each camp included at least one career panel and discussion with scientists in the field, as well as tours of local biotech companies and research institutions.
After a site visit to NanoString Technologies during the “Biotechnology and Infectious Disease” week, one 11th grader said, “I could definitely see myself working at a company like that in the future. This camp taught me valuable lab skills and the variety of careers that biotech can beget.”
A highlight of each camp was the “Showcase of Learning,” a last-day event in which students presented posters or demonstrations to parents and the public featuring their favorite camp activity.
One parent in attendance at the Showcase of Learning for the “Biotechnology and the Environment” week expressed how the camp has helped her student hone in on a career in STEM. “The experience is immensely valuable, not only by giving her real world experience, but also in stoking her curiosity, building confidence, and showing her the wide application of the techniques and knowledge she’s been accumulating! Can’t wait for next year.”
Shoreline Community College will host three biotech camps again next summer with new topics, with the online application opening in February.
PROJECT BIOTECH is made possible through the generous support of community sponsors representing biotech companies, non-profit research institutes, school districts, and local merchants. Their funding provides scholarships for students with financial need as well as lab supplies, curriculum development time, and food, and their scientists participate on career panels and lead site tours. Shoreline Community College values the camp’s sponsors who are supporting the next generation of scientists. The 2017 PROJECT BIOTECH sponsors include:
Shoreline Community College; ZymoGenetics/Bristol-Myers Squibb; Seattle Genetics; Juno Therapeutics; Pacific NW Research Institute; Alturas Analytics, Inc.; Covance; SystImmune, Inc.; Aptevo Therapeutics; Seed Intellectual Property Law Group LLP; NanoString Technologies; Northshore School District; Shoreline Central Market.
More information about PROJECT BIOTECH and videos highlighting activities of each camp are available at shoreline.edu/project-biotech.