- In-depth, immersive, and hands-on biotechnology classes for grades 9-12
- Explore advanced topics & learn skills typically reserved for college classes and graduate studies
- Registration now open for Fall - great for homeschoolers!
Members of HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team have found a new way to create a more genomically literate society and to support and nurture the biotechnology workforce for the future. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Michele Morris, Workforce Development Lead, about HudsonAlpha’s latest program, BioSkills. “Our goal is to reach homeschool students who have been talking to us about how much they enjoy educational outreach programs and wish there was more they could participate in,” says Morris.
While diverse and highly regarded for their exceptional content and instructors, current educational outreach programs at HudsonAlpha aren’t tailored for groups of students available during the school day. Homeschoolers, high school seniors enrolled in half-day, and smaller private schools interested in bringing a class to HudsonAlpha have not had that option… until now. To answer this need, the company began developing a program that offers deep dives on specific biotechnology topics that is driven by student interest – BioSkills fills that gap.
What is BioSkills at HudsonAlpha?
BioSkills is comprised of 19 in-depth, immersive courses for students in grades 9-12, covering subjects ranging from plant genomics to the microbiome to forensics. The first six will launch this August.
Class sizes are intentionally small (maximum of 10) so students may work closely with educational outreach staff. Instructors have graduate degrees in the life sciences and experience working in research settings. In each class, students will gain hands-on experience with advanced lab skills often using the same tools and equipment found in HudsonAlpha research labs.
Classes cost between $45 (3 hours, 1 day) and $175 (12.5 hours, 5 days) depending on the hours of instruction and depth of the material covered.
Growing Huntsville’s Biotechnology Workforce
Morris continues, “What we are hoping to do with the BioSkills classes is nurture the interest and passion a lot of young students have already for science and STEM, and show them the different types of career fields available to them. More than that, to give them experiences they might not have another opportunity to have.” This last part is a hallmark of HudsonAlpha educational outreach programming: offering hands-on experiences too difficult or too expensive to be provided elsewhere.
BioSkills classes are grouped into four levels of technical difficulty: Core, General, Advanced, and Technical. (Those of you who remember Biology 101 or participated in any of HudsonAlpha’s educational programming may notice those levels echo the four bases of DNA: CGAT.)
Students learn techniques more commonly taught at the college level by starting with foundational concepts and skills, like micropipetting and aseptic technique, and progress toward more advanced skills, like PCR and protein purification. At launch, all three Core classes will be available in addition to three General classes.
Where Should My Student Start?
Morris recommends starting the BioSkills journey with Core classes Sharpening Your BioSkills or Biotechnology Skills – Level 1. Both courses will cover general lab safety and essential lab skills like pipetting to prepare students for General classes: Genetic Engineering – Level 1, The Impacts of Yeast Genetics, and Bacteria and Beyond.
BioSkills inherent flexibility allows students to select their next class based on where their interest takes them rather than a prescribed sequence. Morris notes, “We will be able to give students some feedback after a couple of classes to say if they are ready to move on to a more advanced class or perhaps try another class of the same level. With BioSkills, we can be more individualized.” As the BioSkills program matures, more classes at the General, Advanced, and Technical levels will be added.
Ready to sign up? I know I am. Start by completing the interest form. Once classes are scheduled, the HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach team will let you know registration is open via EventBrite.
HudsonAlpha BioSkills Class Details
Maximum class size: 10
Cost: between $45 (3 hours, 1 day) and $175 (12.5 hours, 5 days) depending on the hours & depth of instruction
Location: Paul Propst Center at HudsonAlpha, 800 Hudson Way NW (map)
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Helen Lien, Ph.D. - Biochemist, engineer, educator, and outdoor enthusiast. Loves Huntsville, Madison, and North Alabama. Connecting people, places, and causes to build a better, stronger, and more united community.