|January 20, 2014 • VOL. 52, NO. 2 • Oakland, CA|
| Biotech program debuts at Moreau
The greater Bay Area is a world hotbed of biotechnology, providing a rich scientific environment that enables a school like Moreau Catholic High to develop a program that is highly relevant to students and to the community at large.
Thanks to the efforts of science teacher and certified athletic trainer Kerrie Gibson, Moreau Catholic has a new biotechnology "biotech" program that made its debut this fall.
Says Gibson, "The biotechnology class is perfect for Moreau because we are a STEM school." By this, she explains that, in the biotech world, one uses skills in each STEM area, science, technology, engineering and math. Besides the fact that biotech is a truly cross-specialty discipline, she explains, she takes an unusual approach to the class. Instead of using an academic approach, she uses a business model. "We run our program as if we were a biotech company," explains Gibson. "It is a very hands-on class."
Moreau Catholic's goal is to expand the number of students enrolled in the biotech program itself and to roll out the second-year offering, already developed by Gibson.
Moreau Catholic offers 13 courses in life and physical sciences. These courses challenge students to learn important concepts, often through inquiry-based, hands-on experiences. Moreau has six science labs that are fully equipped for lab experiences. There is a great deal of interest among students at Moreau to sign up for science courses. In fact, according to Moreau College Counselor, Jim Patterson, "Over 62 percent of students take four years of science, while only two years are required to graduate, and only three are required by UC schools."
AP Chemistry teacher Paul Johnson notes that a feature of the science program at Moreau is that the teachers are highly skilled at engaging students and igniting an interest in science. "Traditionally," he said, "students had felt that science was 'too hard' and 'not for me.' Thanks to the culture at Moreau, more and more students are returning to say that they are continuing their studies in science."
Moreau is committed to providing students with the opportunity to engage in science. Says Assistant Principal Matt Stadelman, "Our science courses emphasize 'doing' science. It is one thing to read about science and laboratory experiments, but something completely different to have a hands-on science experience. Difficult concepts are more manageable and become clear when students are provided with an experience that stimulates critical thinking and discussion."
In addition to three courses of biology, chemistry and physics, Moreau offers electives that allow students to pursue related fields. In life science: anatomy and physiology, and kinesiology. In physical science: Engineering I, with an emphasis on civil engineering. Additional engineering courses are planned for the next few years. The Advanced Placement science program offers students AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics.
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