Biotechnology Day Introduces High School Students to Biotech Field

Biotechnology Day Introduces High School Students to Biotech Field

Biotech Students

Hands-on activities, lab tours and panel discussions introduced the field of biotechnology to 125 Chicago high school students who visited Northwestern's campus for Biotechnology Day. The event was organized by the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP).

During a full day of activities designed to heighten awareness of biotechnology careers, the high schoolers also heard from industry experts, Northwestern graduate students and professors. Students from five different high schools attended. 

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to get on campus and be exposed to campus and activities focused on biotechnology,” says Amy Pratt, associate director of OSEP.

“There are so many career opportunities in biotechnology,” adds OSEP teacher development specialist Emily Ferrin, pointing out careers such as lab technician, academic researcher and industry scientist.

Hands-on activities at Biotechnology Day included the following:

  • Just Bead It – Using pipettes and test tubes, students modeled how to encapsulate a cell in bio material. This lab led by Kristen Perkins, the Northwestern-ETHS partnership coordinator, reflects Northwestern's work to improve fertility for cancer patients.
  • Proteomics – Students used foam tubes to model how a cell correctly folds protein. This lab was led by Hortense Bryce of Lindblom Career Academy.
  • CT-STEM – SESP research assistant professor Kai Orton introduced students to models of DNA sequencing.

Lab tours in Cook Hall showed students two core facilities: Northwestern University’s Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center (NUANCE) and Center for Atom Probe Tomography (NUCAPT). The high school students also attended a poster session where the Northwestern students presented their research.

The high schoolers who attended Biotechnology Day are students at schools involved with OSEP’s professional development program in biotechnology. OSEP offers professional development workshops in the field, along with a biotechnology curriculum called NUBIO.

OSEP supports K-12 students and teachers by connecting them with the world-class science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) resources of Northwestern University. The office is directed by SESP professor Kemi Jona.

Biotechnology Day on October 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. was sponsored by Baxter International Inc., the Office of STEM Education Partnerships and the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program at Northwestern. 

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 10/24/13