As the Biotech Club President, I organized several high school outreach projects in Spring 2017 through the State College Area High School both individually and partnered. Two of the presentations focused on the zoological aspect of biotechnology and its relevant topics. The last presentation focused on bioethics. These presentations covered animal testing, transgenesis (GMOs), and xenotransplantation.
To demonstrate biological integration with computer science, students converted binary codes to simulate bioinformatics. Each student received a worksheet with three unique, four digit binary codes that corresponded to three particular nucleotides (codon). Once each student determined their codon, they used a codon chart to determine their amino acid. Each amino acid was called in a specific order, and students created a chain around the classroom. Ultimately, students created a portion of the human-regulatory protein for the HIV gene. This simulated how computers translate binary code into proteins for genome location.
To explore how seemingly non-related fields might fit into the biotech industry, students played a modified version of bingo. Each block represented a college major (ranging from neuroscience to finance), and a student would say the possible role of this field in the biotech industry. This activity demonstrates that biotech isn’t just a bench science anymore.
Since students’ backgrounds in molecular biology varied, I practiced simplifying the scientific vocabulary and complex processes to where someone with a minimal biological background could understand. I taught basic biochemical concepts (amino acid formation, functions of regulatory proteins, etc) during the presentation and enforced student understanding with activities.
Coordinator: designing curriculum for a 60-90 minute presentation, recruiting biological science students to speak at presentations, corresponding with teachers and directors about ideas and proposed event execution, creating original activities that encourage critical thinking in biotech, presenting topics to groups of 18-24 high school aged students, teaching basic biological concepts to students with little background in molecular biology, facilitating emotional conversations and discussion sessions about bioethics, encouraging open-mindedness in controversial scientific topics