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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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FEATURED CLASS: Biotechnology offers hands-on science learning

Elective science class provides real-world connections for juniors and seniors.
Eyes+fixed+on+her+pipette%2C+senior+Leah+Gonzalez-Dias+injects+DNA+into+an+electrophoresis+machine.+During+the+lab%2C+students+compared+DNA+from+different+produce+to+determine+whether+they+were+genetically+modified+organisms.+If+youre+too+rough%2C+you+actually+break+the+gel+and+it+basically+invalidates+the+experience%2C+so+you+only+get+one+shot%2C+Gonzalez-Diaz+said.
Joe Lynch ’24
Eyes fixed on her pipette, senior Leah Gonzalez-Dias injects DNA into an electrophoresis machine. During the lab, students compared DNA from different produce to determine whether they were genetically modified organisms. “If you’re too rough, you actually break the gel and it basically invalidates the experience, so you only get one shot,” Gonzalez-Diaz said.

Haven students looking for a fun and interesting course should consider Mr. Timothy Styer’s biotechnology class. Biotechnology, usually made up of juniors and seniors, is a science class that focuses on the issues that face humanity today, such as food resources, sustainable materials, and global pandemics.

Styer described biotech as a combination of all the sciences, which is what makes it so much fun for students to take. Students are able to apply their knowledge from previous classes and extend it in an experimental way.

“You’re taking the basic processes that we understand. And because we understand them, then we can play with them. We can manipulate them and we can make them work for us,” Styer said.

The science of biotechnology is the exploitation of the basic sciences to optimize industry, crop, and medicine production and is used to improve human lives every day.

“There’s not a thing that we do that will not affect my students, infect my students, or somehow be involved with them directly,” Styer said.

Because biotech focuses on optimal production and creation, Styer states that it will be very influential in the future.

“I saw it as something which is going to be extremely important in the future, very integral in all of our lives,” Styer said. “You know, people say, ‘When am I going to use this?’ That’s never said in my classes. Everything we do is very applicable to what’s going on today, which I love.”

According to Styer, events in the real world—like the COVID-19 pandemic—relate to the topics he covers in class.

“I’ve been teaching pandemics for 20 years,” he said. “And we predicted a big one was coming. Guess what came? A big one!”

This class emphasizes the importance of learning by doing, providing students many opportunities for hands-on experiments.

“My favorite part has been the different labs that we have been doing,” senior Jayana Jackson-Purnell said. “I am more of a hands-on learner and it gives me the experience I need to truly understand what we are working on.”

Biotech allows students to study complex topics like microbiology, virology, pathology, epidemiology, genetic engineering, and GMOs.

“So far, I have learned a lot of interesting things and have done a lot of in-depth labs involving the transduction of E.coli, separating the GMOs that are in certain foods, using PCR to diagnose patients with certain symptoms, etc,” senior Sophia Hoppe said.

Styer thinks that all students at Haven should take biotech to experience a lab-based course, try something new, and understand what is going on in the world today.

Many of his students think that his teaching is also a great reason to take the course.

“The subject isn’t too hard, and it’s interesting,” senior Liang He said. “The biggest reason why I’d recommend it would be to have Mr. Styer as your teacher. It’s a chill class that still challenges your skill in the lab and your knowledge about science.”

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