W. Va. teachers bring biotechnology to high schools

From finding treatments for diseases to creating better food, the field of biotechnology is an important science, educators say.

This summer, West Liberty State College in Weirton, W.Va., offered biotechnology workshops for high school teachers so they could take what they learned back to their classrooms this fall.

“This is the first time that biotechnology will be taught in the [state’s] high schools, and this is a way to get students interested in the biology field,” said West Liberty State College biotechnology coordinator and assistant professor Robert Kreisberg. “Biology isn’t the easiest field, but we want to get more students interested in science and let them know it’s not always paperwork.”

The first workshop was held in July at the West Liberty campus, with eight teachers participating.

“The teachers were really enjoying themselves because it’s hands on and they know that they aren’t just going to stand in front of a blackboard to explain biotechnology,” Kreisberg said. “The students are going to be involved with the same experiments that their teachers learned during the workshop.”

Workshop activities include isolating a protein in a fish, separating a DNA molecule, purifying a protein,and transferring a jellyfish gene into bacteria so that it will glow, he said.

Biotechnology is used to help find better treatments against cancer and HIV, Kreisberg said: “Through biotechnology, [scientists] were able to find a treatment that attacks the bad cells, but not the good cells,” he said.

Biotechnology is being offered as an elective, he said, and schools may choose if they want to offer the class. Kreisberg said he feels high schools will start offering the class once their teachers are trained in the subject.

West Liberty and the West Virginia Department of Education helped fund the workshops.

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