Technology

Boosting a Biotech Future

Arizona plans to lure high school students to the biology lab and beyond.
by | September 2006

Two plus two plus two equals an innovative way for Arizona to entice students into the rapidly growing field of biotechnology. The 2+2+2 refers to an education model that Arizona is using to introduce juniors and seniors in Mesa public high schools to a science project they can keep working on at Mesa Community College for two years and ASU Polytechnic University for another two if they find that biology is a field of interest.

It could turn out trained and educated students interested in entering the burgeoning biotech field in Arizona. A 2003 report said the state needed to educate more students to fill biotech jobs coming to Arizona. Funded with nearly $900,000 from the National Science Foundation, the research project also might open doors for students who would not otherwise have pursued college. Once their interest is piqued in high school, the next step is a relatively affordable community college education.

The project will strive to decode the genome of bacteria, sequencing the genes in its DNA in a computer. The research could apply to humans and help with the understanding of metabolic diseases in people.

Educators are trying to draw students who are underachievers, lack motivation or might not see themselves as college material. Project leaders hope that relevant research that leads to new findings--rather than canned experiments that have been done over and over in science classes--will excite students who will see those findings published in scientific literature. "It will give them a taste," says Steve Slater, ASU associate professor, "for what it's like to discover something new."

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