Bleeding Edge

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
biotech, high school

Biotech Now Being Taught In High Schools

from the with-an-emphasis-on-real dept

There's definitely been a lot of talk lately about how biotech is the industry that's got the most promise to be "the next big thing." Whether you agree with that or not, it seems that some high schools want to prepare the next generation of students for biotech jobs, so they're actually offering biotech as a high school class. What may be most interesting here is the connection between the schools and actual biotech companies. This isn't just about learning about biotech, it's about interacting with companies in the space and understanding the business side of biotech, rather than just the technology (er... and biology). The hope, obviously, is to help make sure the next great biotech breakthroughs come from American companies -- and the best way to do that, supporters of these programs believe -- is to get high school kids thinking about and excited about biotech opportunities. Still, while it's surprising that there isn't more pushback (at least the article doesn't note any) about corporations reaching directly into high school classrooms, it seems like a reasonable thing to do in such an emerging area. A standard curriculum won't be all that useful in a rapidly changing arena -- and connecting with companies who are on the bleeding edge is likely to be a lot more educational in the long run anyway.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Casper, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 12:44pm


    The current high school curriculum's are about worthless. They give you some literature, basic introduction to science, more math then the majority of people ever need to know, and a keyboarding class, then kick you out the door. In a world where computers are becoming key to every aspect of the working world and the global competition is increasing, our schools need to rethink their old standards.

    While I'm not a fan of corporations reaching into the education system (although this is nothing new), at least someone is modernizing the antiquated curriculum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    dorpus, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    What's the point?

    A high school graduate will never be useful beyond feeding rats in a biotech company. The high school graduate can feed rats at a "bleeding edge" biotech company if he wants, but he will not understand the science, so it will not be useful career training for him/her. Biotech companies are not "reaching out into high school classrooms" -- there is an abundant supply of rat feeders that can be hired for $5/hr.

    To contribute to a biotech company in a meaningful way, an employee should have a PhD or two. Even then, it is a high-risk, very volatile environment, where well over 99% of biotech companies will disappear after a year or two when they run out of funding. For the foreseeable future, biotech will remain a fringe industry that "holds promise", like maglev trains or fusion power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    Might be better able to prepare students for working in the biotech industry and increase their awareness and interest in science by allowing non-nerfed chemistry sets to be used by kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Le Blue Dude, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    All I know

    All I know I learned in college.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    dustin, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    Why not?

    If you can encourage someone from high school to pursue a degree over the next 8 years then they graduate and go work for you not only do you have someone with a PhD. You have someone who thinks along the same lines as your company.

    I know I would have much rather feed rats, fill charts and dip into the math and biology than work at McDonalds during college.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Brian, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 2:37pm

    o fine, make me feel bad. I'm going to take biotech next year in uni.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Biotech/Chem Grad Student, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 2:59pm

    While I sympathize with other posters saying a HS grad can only "feed the rats", the absolute best thing about Biotech companies moving into classrooms is the CHANCE that it may promote the field.

    Most HS Students who know they are going into college are either considering Professional Schools or MBA's. There is a huge field out there for students with PhD's and masters, telling and getting these HS students excited about these opportunities are key.

    IMO, most pure researchers enter college with plans on Medicine, and SOMETIMES get sidetracked into research, and they prosper. Students going into college with the mentality of "I want to get my PhD in biochem and work for a Biotech company" will have a huge advantage over other people. ATM, +75% of science grad students in American Universities are foreigners and many are likely to take their education back to there home countries.

    We need more good American Science students.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Bob, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Our school has had a Biotech class for close to 5 years. How is this news?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    dorpus, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 4:07pm


    We need more good American Science students.

    Do we? What if I said that we have way too many American science students, in fact? These students come out of school expecting to get jobs in biotech, but they are nowhere to be found. For the past 50 years, the government has been blasting propaganda about "shortages" of scientists and engineers, but we consistenly produce way too many of them. The frustrated science and engineering graduates end up becoming accountants, database administrators, or schoolteachers who spend the rest of their lives demonstrating that water boils at 100C.

    People who want scientific careers can make safer bets in the health sciences. Unless you are an absolute genius, I would stay away from traditional science/engineering degrees. I say this as a medical researcher who used to be a software engineer for 8 years; it was clear that an IT career is unsatisfying in the long run.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Biotech/Chem Grad Student, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 4:28pm

    We need more good American Science students.

    I believe we do. Im not gonna cite sources here, but within the last 20 years, the US has seen a dramatic drop in the number of publications in Scientific Journals, with an increase from all other countries (used to be that the US produced more manuscripts then all other countries combined).

    I believe that this loss in scientific superiority can only have negative effect on the country as a whole (great for the rest of the world however). What can i say, im a homeocentric kinda guy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Maria, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 5:42pm

    Re: What's the point?

    Yup, I was one of them, granted this was about 15 yrs. ago, but I didn't even get paid!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Clueby4, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 7:24pm

    Sounds like propaganda to me

    Why do I get the feeling, very little "tech" will be involved and ZERO "bio" with regards adverse affects of biotech. Not to mention the underlying motivation of most biotech firms to convert all matter into patentable money streams.

    While Biotech seems like the magic pill for most of the sheeple, reasonable people with even a little grasp of the scientific process understand that it's not that simple. There's a reason most students complain about organic chemistry.

    The simple fact that no one in this country has any effective means of determining whether or not they are consuming "biotech" should illustrate how the "biotech" stories have a significant spin applied to them.

    So to me this program appears to be a pre-spin endeavor. If they were really concerned about "preparing" students how about addressing lack of basic math skills and perish the thought understanding of the basic scientific processes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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