Most people would likely want to avoid E. coli bacteria that is genetically engineered to glow under a black light. However, the students enrolled in Mountain View High School’s biotechnology program find bacteria and all the other things the class has to offer fascinating.
The bioscience classes, which are funded by the Joint Technological Education District, are all part of the Career and Technical Education classes offered in the Marana Unified School District. Similarly funded curriculum at Mountain View include culinary arts, early childhood education and automotive technologies.
Heading up the school’s biotechnology program is Lynne Coté, who has spent her 22-year teaching career at Mountain View High School. In years past, Coté had instructed students in a small, chemistry styled classroom. That changed last year after the school shifted some classes; the moves opened up three classrooms that CTE was looking to fill. CTE allocated the space to the biotechnology program and $207,000 in renovations later, Coté and her students moved into their new biotech-friendly classrooms.
“Now it is a fully operational research facility,” Coté said last week in the wake of the open house ceremony for the new labs. “We have a high-tech research lab that basically we can do any experiment that any other working lab in any company could do.
“With the exception of radiation or work with chemicals that could be harmful to the students,” she added.
Within the other two separate rooms, Coté has a laboratory classroom where students can do regular lab work. The third room is a chemical prep room, which contains a sealed and separately ventilated chemical storage room.
Through her own studying, research and connections within the field, Coté has been able to buy the newest and most up-to-date lab equipment, allowing the students to be ready for research facilities in college and in the industry.
In the future, Coté hopes to install a growth room in the prep room so students can grow various plants that could be bred and used for experiments.
Mountain View junior Rachel Evans, 16, has participated in the program for two years.
“It was just a classroom with counters,” Evans recalled on Monday about the previous classroom. “You couldn’t do any serious research work or anything. This is fantastic. We just worked with E. coli a few minutes ago. That’s the coolest thing ever!”
The class has helped Evans zero in on her future career working with animal diseases and vaccines.
“I found out I had a passion for research in this class,” Evans said. “I wanted to be a vet but I really didn’t want to do surgery. So I was like ‘OK, well, what can I do that really sparks my interest?’ and this class is my favorite class of the day.”