- To immerse students in a science-centric curriculum, which explores science’s connection to the humanities and influence in the world.
- To create critical thinking, science-minded individuals who are prepared to succeed in college and have the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to give them an edge in the biotechnology industry.
a note from a BTI senior & future Oregon State University student - P.R.
volume 2 issue 4
To be able to walk into a professional biotechnology company, point to any instrument in the lab, and say, “I know what that is and how to operate it,” is an experience that not many college students have, let alone a high schooler. In BTI, students can work with instruments professionals in the field use in their daily lives, and they learn to perform various labs that are vital in biotechnology. I know this because I was able to apply my knowledge over the summer during my six-week internship. My intern mentor was in awe at all of the experiences I was exposed to in my BTI classes, and he expressed that he was not taught some of the information until he was in grad school. Additionally, in a mere two years of being in BTI, I was able to outperform all prior college interns from that company and even was on par with the new hire that he was training at the same time.
While some parents may hesitate to have their student join this program because it takes them off the AP track (I know my mom was), I found that the practical, real-life experiences I gained from the BTI program are just as valuable as anything I gleaned from the AP classes I have taken. Not only are the classes more hands-on, but the class sizes are smaller, which allows for more teacher-student interaction. Also, there is less homework compared to other classes and the classes are subject-focused, meaning that instead of learning out of an outdated textbook, students are learning about real-world stories that affect everyday life exponentially. Equally important, BTI is a very close-knit community that allows students to get to know their classmates as well as their teachers very quickly and on a deeper level since they are with each other for three years. Ultimately, I am so happy that I decided to join the BTI family and look forward to further developing my knowledge in the biotech engineering field next year as a freshman in college.
seniors at the top of their game
Ms. Burndon & Dr. Kapp - biomanufacturing - a dual-credit class with skyline college
BTI seniors, who have developed college-level science and lab skills, are now doing college-level science in their Biomanufacturing class, co-taught with Ms. Burndon and Dr. Kapp from Skyline College. Their first science project was to perform DNA barcoding on sushi fish. DNA barcoding is a method of species identification using a short section of DNA from a specific gene or genes to classify an organism at the species level. Our BTI seniors put on their detective hats to confirm if that expensive high-grade piece of sushi was as the menu stated or in fact, a cheaper piece of sushi. What would Sherlock Holmes be doing if he were alive today?
Seniors then put on their lab coats and made bio-active pills and lotions as practice biomanufacturing products. They extracted zinc from beets and made supplement pills, learning through the process and a little bit of math that not every good idea leads to a good product! You’d have to take hundreds of their zinc pills a day to get your RDA. They also extracted the enzyme bromelain, a protease that can help break down dead skin, from pineapple and mixed it into a lotion base that they created. They used lab tests to determine that the lotion was effective and the enzyme remained active, and then sealed it into single-use compostable packets.
As if that is not impressive enough, the next science project will really knock your socks off. BTI seniors formed small groups to design a medical device to improve dialysis outcomes. Urease is the enzyme that breaks down urea in the kidneys. BTI seniors first extracted urease from soybeans by crushing and blending the material to extract urease. Next, they made alginate beads containing urease and tested them by exposing the alginate beads to urea. They then tested for the presence of ammonia, a byproduct that is produced when urea is broken down. Once they confirmed that their alginate beads were viable, they designed a portable dialysis device using the alginate beads! Wow, what a fantastic accomplishment.
This semester, BTI seniors will design their own capstone biomanufacturing final projects by coming up with a biotech product idea, designing the procedure, and developing and testing the product. They will also create all the packaging and marketing materials. Make sure you mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 19 from 5:30-7 pm in U20 where you are invited to come and admire their accomplishments. The last edition in May will also highlight their projects. It is super impressive!
English 4 - Ms. Pierce
Seniors started the year with a main focus on honing their writing skills and applying those to their college essays/personal statements. We appreciate all the time and assistance that Ms. Pierce provided our students to finish these in a timely manner, one of the biggest stress points of college applications. Thank you Ms. Pierce! Next, BTI seniors are using literature and non-fiction to examine science issues, such as ethics and biases, to develop critical thinking and writing skills.
This semester, students will read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. A book review states, "In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. It is a riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley. Sounds super interesting!
American Government - Ms. Manuel
Most of us parents remember high school American Government and Economics. Our seniors are no different. During this second semester, seniors are learning all about American government and what role they can play in our system. As soon to be voters, seniors learn how our voting system works and come to understand the importance of each of our votes. To that end, they will be creating board games that demonstrate the complicated presidential electoral system. Perfect timing!
BTI seniors will also hold a mock trial for a notorious biotech CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, based on the book they are reading in English, Bad Blood.
- Join! BTI was an amazing experience that has truly made me grow as an individual. - AM
- It’s hands-down one of the best decisions I’ve made. As long as you’re interested in science, this is a fantastic option for you. Being in a smaller community allows you to become open with your peers and allows you to make amazing friends who share the same interests. The teachers are fantastic and always willing to help. -SL
- If you are interested in science and want your high school experience to reflect that, then BTI is the place for you. The close knit community allows you to thrive and find help whenever you need it. - JL
- I would say to just do it. It's a great opportunity and definitely will set you on the right path for what you want to do. You also become a family with the people in your grade and you make lots of friends. It's a really fun experience. - SH
- Knowing I have a group of peers and teachers that will have my back when the times get hard. TJR
- I got a mentor who was incredible, and who I am still in contact (with we get brunch from time to time) and she has given me a window to look into biotech from a non lab perspective. It was one of the most valuable things BTI has given me. - AM
- The family aspect of BTI is so strong. I don’t feel shy to raise my hand in class at all, or to share my opinion. I also met my closest friends in BTI, of which I plan to continue to talk to throughout college. - SL
- I have really enjoyed the English class specifically because we have had so many interesting scientific discussions about topics that actually interest us. I’ve also really enjoyed the science classes because of the lab experience. Other kids my age wouldn’t have any knowledge of how to use lab equipment. - KME
- Mentor meetings- Both meeting my mentor outside of school at at the symposiums was fun and informative. My mentor gave me a lot of tips about the future(college, jobs etc.). - EJ
In what ways have you grown from being in BTI?
Becoming stronger and more confident and learning how to better conduct myself as a student, person, and an employee. - TJR
I have a super fantastic support system because of BTI which has helped me grow in many areas of my life socially, academy, and emotionally. It has been a super transformative experience for me. - AM
In BTI I have really been able to focus on what I’m passionate about. The opportunities in BTI have helped me to learn so much more than I thought I would’ve in this program. - DB
I’ve surprisingly learned a lot about ethics in BTI. Studying that unit in English junior year really made me start to think about the ethics of everything, and weighing out each side of the story before making a decision. I feel that I’ve grown from that because I am able to be more aware of people’s views that contradict my own. - SL
BTI has helped me see what I plan to do for the rest of my life. I have learned to love science and I can’t wait to contribute to the field. - AS
BTI taught me how to develop a sense of professionalism when interacting with others in the field of science, as well as with any guest speakers and fellow peers. - TP
I have gained a lot of knowledge about the workforce and the credentials in biotech. - CH
Helped me be more extroverted in my classes rather than being quiet and not participating. - CB
I have learned about current scientific topics I likely would not have learned in a regular class such as bioethics. Now that I am almost done with the BTI program, I am more confident about what I want to study when I go to university. -EJ
Other bti news
Cleaning Product Project - Juniors
The junior cross-curricular project where students create an environmentally-friendly cleaning product is always a favorite among BTI students. Students use many of the biotechnology skills they developed over the past two years when they make their cleaning solutions and test the efficacy by making agar plates to determine if the cleaner killed surface bacterial. They also often reference skills learned in chemistry when they accidentally make soap, or when their cleaning products start changing colors. Students also develop an ad campaign for their products. This includes a label for the bottle, a magazine ad, and a video commercial.
Ms. Gold does an excellent job teaching the students advertising strategies in their English class, and the classroom is turned into a market place on Open House night, with students “selling” their cleaners. The community is always impressed with all of the scientific data they have to support their claims. Taking the skills learned in the lab and classroom, and making a real-world product is just one way BTI tries to make the curriculum more relevant for the students.
BTI Juniors at work
Congrats to this BTI Sophomore
In January, a BTI sophomore (shown right) spoke at a meeting of the Sequoia Audubon. She was the recipient of a scholarship, which sent young local birders to attend the American Birding Association’s renowned Camp Colorado and spoke with peers about her experience there. Such interesting students!
BTI Social Events
Hot cocoa and Cookies
January 24, 2020
Show BTI Some love - valentine's celebration
February 7, 2020
Yep...and let's show our BTI teachers who continue to organize and sponsor these monthly events some love too! It is not just the learning that takes place in this program, it's the bonding that takes place among the students and teachers. BTI transcends the classroom. BTI forms a family.
9/4/19 - Never Tell Her the Odds
Laurie Hill, Vice-President of Intellectual Property, Genentech, blends her passion for science with a belief that nothing is impossible in her work in legal strategy and IP management at Genentech. From bench scientist to VP, Ms. Hill recalls, “As a kid, when other girls were playing with dolls, I was running science experiments. My parents never understood why I wasn’t more traditional, but I kept on studying science. In college, I fell in love with immunology—it’s still amazing to me that there’s a system that is responsive to everything else in your body. In the middle of an immunology class, my favorite aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and later died; I decided then that I wanted to do cancer research to honor her memory and make a difference, so I pursued a PhD in cancer immunology.”
11/6/19 - Science and Entrepreneurship: Why it’s easier than ever to start a science-based company
Diego Rey, Founder and CSO at Endpoint Health, Inc. explains that until recently, starting a science-based company was difficult because it was too expensive and impractical for most founders. Science-based founders usually only came from elite institutions. Now, new technology, infrastructure, and business models have made it easier than ever to start a science-based company, and what’s most exciting is that anyone anywhere can be a science-based startup founder.
2/12/20 - Science Medicine & Life
Dr. Darren Ji is Co-Founder and CEO of Elpiscience Biopharmceuticals, Inc., an innovative biotechnology company that helps harness the power of one’s own immune system to fight cancer. He also serves as a Venture Partner of Lilly Asia Ventures (LAV). Prior to that Darren was Global Vice President of Roche Partnering for Asia and Emerging Markets, as well as a leadership team member of Roche Partnering, Roche’s deal-making body that manages the company’s business development across the board including licensing and M&A. In this role, Darren was responsible for driving the strategy and execution of partnering activities in the territory of Asia and Emerging Markets encompassing over 100 countries.
Bill Brazil came to speak with our BioManufacturing students about patents. Specifically, Bill explained how patents work and how to get one, and how they can be used by Pharma/Biotech companies. He also shared insight into the "Bad Blood" Holmes/Theranos patents and case, and answered questions on anything else students found interesting around patents. One BTI senior was so impressed that he is considering a educational focus around what he learned as he embarks on his college journey! You never know from where the next spark of inspiration will come!
Open house - March 12, 2020
We hope you will join our guidance counselor, Kim Miller for a special college information meeting before Open House on March 12 at 5:30 PM in the College and Career Center. After, we would also love to see you in the labs where the sophomores and juniors will be presenting cross-curricular projects:
- U20: Sophomores will present their research projects on an application of biotechnology.
- U21: Juniors will present their environmentally-friendly household products and ad campaigns.
Each student team will sign up to present during a half-hour time slot between 6:30 and 8:30 PM. Ms. Abdilla and Ms. Gold will be floating back and forth between U20 and U21 if you would like to say hello! Hope to see you at Open House!
Other BTI events
- March 20 - Cabin Fever - Lunchtime Bonding in U21
- April 7 - Career Tech Ed Day for Juniors at Skyline College
- April 14 - Senior Bonding Day at iFly (lucky!)
- April 17 - Outdoor Fun - Lunchtime Bonding - Location TBD
- April 21 - CytomX Therapeutics for Juniors
- April 29 - Parent Mix and Mingle
- May 1 - Final BTI Mentor Event - 9-10 am
- May 5 - Genentech for Sophomores
- May 6 - Roche for Seniors
- May 19 - Biomanufacturing Final Poster Event from 5:30-7 pm in U20.
- June 3 - BTI's 2020 Senior Graduation Ceremony at the Performing Arts Center - 6:30 p.m.
- Susan Gold - Co-Director of BTI: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jaime Abdilla - Co-Director of BTI: email@example.com
- Faith Velschow - Director of Mentoring and Career Services: firstname.lastname@example.org 650-591-7502
- Kevin Marks – President of the BTI Development Committee: email@example.com
- Kat Eden - Sophomore Parent Rep & Communications Rep: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cheryl Shelmadine - Junior Parent Rep and newsletter editor: email@example.com
- Jennifer Douglis - Junior Parent Rep: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tanya Rianda - Senior Parent Rep: email@example.com
- Gurpreet Padam - Senior Parent Rep: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to contact any of us if you have any questions, ideas or concerns. You can also submit articles, stories and/or photos to the editor of our Parent & Community BTI newsletter. We would love to feature what your amazing BTI student is up to!