California Educator

February/March 2021

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Page 49 of 63

S T U D E N T S C A N ' T V I S I T their school's science lab during the pan- demic, but the lab has come to them, thanks to science kits created by inventive biotechnology teachers for students learning at home. In San Mateo County — biotech capital of the world, with ground- breaking companies that include Pfizer, Genentech and Gilead — nine high school biotech teachers formed a partnership with Skyline College in San Bruno, creating a dual-enrollment program allowing high school students to receive college credit for cutting-edge classes in a field that incorporates biology, chemistry, math, physics and DNA, and offers exciting, well-paying careers. Andrea Vizenor, dean of strategic partnerships and workforce devel- opment at Skyline College, fostered the partnership with the high school teachers, connecting them with the community college's professor Nick Kapp. Before COVID-19, they collaborated to create hands-on lab exper- iments to teach students about biotechnology. When the pandemic hit, San Mateo County schools went online and the partnership ramped up. e educa- tors didn't want to go from hands-on instruction to just lecturing. ey were afraid boredom might set in, despite the fascinating subject matter. So they collaborated on curriculum via Zoom over the summer. And thanks to Skyline, which donated money and supplies, they were able to create science kits to send home with students, who are still doing distance learning. Collaboration with college "Skyline College was awesome," says Daniel Rivera, a bio- tech teacher at El Camino High School and a South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association (SSFCTA) member. "ey bought the materials for us, and schools used these supplies to put kits together. We wanted to make sure that whatever students do at home is still meeting standards for the class — as well as CTE [career technical education] standards. The experiments are challenging enough to cover important concepts, but can be done safely." For example, a basic skill is learning how to mix solutions of various mass/volume concentrations and percentages. But since chemicals typically used in labs could not be sent home with students, students used Kool-Aid. ey were asked to create different concen- trations of the liquid with transfer pipettes, and to create flow charts that demonstrate the math scale used to cal- culate the strength of the concoctions. To learn how to sort and compile data, teachers cre- ated an experiment where students weighed eggs based "The experiments are challenging enough to cover important concepts — but can be done safely." —Daniel Rivera, South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association Daniel Rivera putting science kits together for students' at-home experiments. Yes, kids, you can try this at home By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Lab Kits A Science Experiment: 48 Teaching & Learning

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