Submitted by Judy Bleakley
Incoming junior and senior Aurora LIGHTS students participated in the Biotechnology Institute held at Hinkley High School this summer. The focus was on learning basic lab skills and procedures used in a research or medical lab settings, as well as mastering critical science content required for success in their future "Project Lead the Way" courses. Not only did they learn that microbes are very tiny creatures that you can’t see with the unaided eye, but they also learned that microbes include bacteria, archaea, fungi and protists.
During the institute students learned how to use DNA sequencing to genetically identify bacteria. They tested various antibiotics to see if the bacteria they collected was susceptible or resistant, and they designed and conducted an inquiry lab to test using home remedies for their ability to be effective antibiotics. Students worked collaboratively on developing presentations to explain conclusions from their research.
Students interacted with a variety of professionals in the area of health, allied health and biotechnology. From the CEO of Beacon Biotechnology, for example, students learned that their scientists had developed a small gene chip that could be used for rapid disease diagnosis. Many opportunities were offered to students to see the application of their learning from the institute in the real world of work, including their visit to the Anschutz Medical Campus to participate in a research panel designed to expose students to a variety of careers available in the field of research.
Reflecting on what has been learned was an important component of the institute. This process helped students gather evidence for their professional record of their accomplishments in the program (electronic portfolio), which they'll be able to use when doing college or job applications.