M-A’s Newest Science Class: Biotechnology

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After their sophomore year, M-A students can take many different science pathways, ranging from AP Biology to Physics. Many of these courses require heavy amounts of note-taking and reading, leaving many seniors with few classes that focus on projects, analysis, and application. Starting next year, M-A will offer a Biotechnology class, taught by Dr. Rachel Richards, that will concentrate on these skills. 

Logistically, students should take the class right after freshman Biology and sophomore Chemistry, as the class expands on many ideas learned previously—though these classes are not prerequisites. The class will have access to higher-end scientific equipment, allowing students to have the opportunity to go beyond the surface-level skills obtained in freshman year. As explained by Richards, “Earlier, you learned how to extract DNA from a strawberry or create glow-in-the-dark bacteria. In this class, we would take it one step further to deepen our understanding, like isolating a protein from both to test their limits.”

The curriculum will also offer a wide variety of engaging new labs such as using animal saliva to determine personality traits. In a potential lab, students would be able to swab their dogs’ mouths to determine if their pets are timid or outgoing.  If there are phenomena students are inquisitive about, they are encouraged to test them in class for grade credit. As stated by Richards, “Biotechnology is a very powerful tool that can solve any problem if you put your mind to it, and I want to show students that they can explain almost everything around them by utilizing it.”

Any student can take Biotechnology and earn their necessary lab science credit, making it useful for those who need to complete their A-G requirements. According to Richards, “We created this class to meet the needs of those on our campus. Good or bad at Biology, it’s for anyone curious about how their lives are affected by Biotechnology.” The class is not an AP, and its rigor is similar to Biology. However, for very interested students, Richards explained that “there will be available enrichment opportunities, such as inquiry-based projects, but they aren’t mandatory.”

As for the future of biotechnology at M-A, Richards hopes to expand the course to offer a Career Technological Education (CTE) pathway for those who want to pursue a career in the field. Numerous colleges have opened up pathways as the field of biotechnology continues to grow, and these opportunities show no signs of slowing down. As stated by Richards, “Biotechnology is the future, and I encourage students with genuine interest to start learning about it as soon as they can.”

Jonathan is a junior at M-A and is in his first year at journalism. He hopes to learn more about his community and issues within it. Outside of school he enjoys listening to music and relaxing with friends.

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