CLSI collaborates on SFUSD Biotech Week Reaching Almost 1000 Students
CLSI, the The Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC), and City College of San Francisco’s (CCSF) Biotechnology Program collaborated in April and May to deliver hands-on Biotech Weeks in five San Francisco Unified District (SFUSD) high schools. The Biotech Week engaged almost 1000 students and 11 biology teachers with real-world applications in biotechnology.
BABEC coordinated a week of robust work-based learning where teachers and students learned principles of biotechnology and performed foundational laboratory techniques. Following hands-on lab activities, students met with faculty members of the City College Biotech Program and learned how they can continue to explore their interests in biotechnology at CCSF through dual enrollment courses, the Bridge to Biotech Program and the Bioscience Internship Program.
The week culminated with a guest speaker series organized by CLSI and comprised of 20 industry experts from the Gladstone Institutes, Genentech, Relypsa, Stanford University and JS Hongo Consulting; postdocs from UCSF; and interns from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at City College. Speakers shared a broad range of career trajectories with students.
Biotech Week gave teachers and students new ideas for conducting science. Provided with industry-relevant curricula and training from BABEC, teachers engaged students in lessons that gave them real-world practice, such as how to use a micropipette for a bacterial transformation protocol. The guest speakers on Fridays bolstered the lab activities by sharing how they use similar applications at work.
After experiencing Biotech Week and meeting biotechnology faculty from City College, surveys showed that more students are interested in taking biotechnology classes at City College after high school. Biotech Week also inspired students to think that they can also become scientists. Many of them expressed interest in becoming a laboratory technician as a first step in their science career. As one freshman from Lincoln High School put it, “This week was pretty fuego.”
After completing one year of biology, students can enroll in a biotech program at their high school. To date, only Galileo, Wallenberg and Lincoln High Schools have biotech programs. Students who are successful in these programs can waive courses in CCSF’s Biotech program upon entry. Students in schools that do not have biotech programs can enroll in biotech courses at City College and earn college credit. Pursuing biotech courses at City College will eventually lead to earning a Lab Assistant Certificate and an internship at a local biotech company or research lab. Students can begin working in industry with an AS, or transfer to a four-year college after CCSF’s free biotechnology program.
CLSI serves as the industry liaison on the four-year California Career Pathways Trust grant with partners San Francisco Unified School District, City College of San Francisco, the Career Ladders Project and the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
While Biotech Week provides a generous helping of professional development for teachers, real-world applications for students, a chance for City College to meet potential new students and an opportunity for industry professionals to give back, nothing can be more valuable than awakening the next generation of budding scientists in our communities.