Harford Community College held the 2022 BIOTECH Pathways Teaching Academy on campus this summer. Sixteen Harford County faculty from Aberdeen, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Center for Educational Opportunity, Edgewood, Harford Technical, Havre de Grace, Joppatowne, and North Harford High Schools took advantage of the opportunity to learn ways to integrate biotechnology content into their curriculum.
During the academy, teachers completed laboratory skills practice, laboratory experiments, and curriculum design discussions. Each day, the teachers completed educational laboratory kits that they could use in their classrooms. One kit enabled them to complete COVID-19 testing using Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). Another kit enabled them to complete plant gene editing using a CRISPR-Cas9 system.
The program served to increase Harford County Public Schools Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers’ knowledge of biotechnology careers, content, and laboratory skills such as micro-pipetting, CRISPR, PCR, and gel electrophoresis. It also aimed to improve their ability to integrate biotechnology concepts, skills, and labs into their courses to increase student engagement in the high school curriculum. Additionally, it served to provide the teachers with a better understanding of biotechnology programs and opportunities that are available to students at the College.
Harford Community College Dean Pamela Pape-Lindstrom, Ph.D.; Jaclyn Madden, Associate Professor of Biology and Biotechnology; Breonna Martin, Assistant Professor of Biology; and Dr. Susan Walker, Assistant Professor of Biology, are members of the College’s Biotechnology team that was responsible for the Teaching Academy.
Harford County is part of the BioHealth Capital Region, a significant region of the country with a vast biotechnology industry. This region has a rapidly expanding need for skilled biotechnicians. Working with high school STEM teachers provides the College with more opportunities to reach high school students and introduce them to biotechnology.
In addition to the BIOTECH Pathways Teaching Academy, BIOTECH Pathways Workshops for high school students and families were held in spring 2021 and 2022. The College also conducted a week-long BIOTECH Pathways Summer Institute for 20 high school students August 1-5, 2022.
BIOTECH Pathways is supported through a $493,912 grant (Grant No. 2000193, Jaclyn Madden, Principal Investigator) from the National Science Foundation and was developed to create accessible pathways for future biotechnicians to progress from public high schools to degree and certificate programs, to biotechnology careers and/or further study at four-year universities. The project is open to all and additionally targets students traditionally underrepresented in STEM, thus providing opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility by generating access to biotechnology careers.