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Biotechnology Class Latest Addition to MC Roster

Biotech teacher Tore Blichfeldt
Photo by | Kristine Pham

Any typical biology or chemistry class here at MC is filled with labs and lectures, but these classes often leave students wondering when they will ever use those skills or information. Tore Blichfeldt, biology and geoscience teacher here at MC, is more than familiar with the lack of drive from students in these classes, as he teaches biology and geoscience. However, one class stands apart from the rest, the Biotechnology class, in which students choose to  challenge themselves at the higher level. Due to lack of student interest in past years, the class was postponed from being placed on the roster for the past few years.

This is the first year since 2014 that the Biotechnology class has been offered, with ten mavericks deciding to enroll. With so few students and the very fast-paced nature of the class, each day can be tailored to fit the needs of the students.

“There’s no real normal days. We start with basic [information review and technical] skills because we have people come in that have had very advanced classes like AP Bio, AP Chem, and AP Physics,” Blichfeldt said. “Then we have people who come in who have just had chem and bio and so we have to get everyone on the same page.”

Since the class reviews the basics, Blichfeldt only recommends students have a base of biology and chemistry. Differing from both biology and chemistry, students only spend one trimester sitting at their desks, and the following trimester on their feet– out in the field.

“We work our way up to the exact same stuff they would be doing if they worked for one of the local biotech companies,” Blichfeldt said.  “Then for one trimester [the students] go and work for a biotech company.”

Students working on a lab in which they magnify DNA strands Photo credit | Kristin Pham

Much like the work experience class offered at MC, students of the biotech class will meet once a week to go over their experiences and discuss work skills. While the thought of scouring the streets in search of internships may seem daunting, Blichfeldt works with students to find something for them.

“We’ve had luck in the past where we have a lot of companies that are willing to take people and then at times when the class was larger (28-30 kids) it’s difficult to find something for everyone,” Blichfeldt said. “We have a large list of about 40 different companies [we partner with]. It varies from year to year but we’ve had Alere and many others.”

By teaching students these skills now, Sundevils will have a leg up on others as they enter the field.

“Having [technical] skills when you [start working] is very helpful,” Blichfeldt said. “Also if they do take any course that involves any kind of technology  they are going to shine because their technique is going to be so much better than anyone else’s.”

Student using a micropipette Photo credit | Kristine Pham

Senior Lauren Saclauso, having already taken chem and AP bio, was thrilled when she heard the class was going to be offered this year.

“I took it so that I could have a more in depth and hands on learning experience in biology and to be exposed to other biology paths that I could potentially major in.”

This class is also unique in aiding students in answering the ever elusive questions they are constantly bombarded with their senior year.

“I would recommend this class because it’s different from your general high school education and it can introduce you to something that you might have a passion for.”

About Lindy Verhage

Lindy Verhage
Lindy is a Senior at MC and the Sun's Editor in Chief. She enjoys long-winded, antiquated idioms, big dogs that think they are small dogs, and traveling to local bookstores. She is an ambidextrous ice cream scooper and advocator of siestas.

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