Biotechnology Resource for Teachers - Arizona State University's BioREACH Program

OVERVIEW OF Arizona State University's BioREACH PROGRAM

In a world of exploding science-based technology, everyone in society needs a vastly better command of scientific knowledge. Biotechnology, involving the analysis and manipulation of DNA, has brought about a revolution in the biological sciences. It is a rapidly advancing field that applies scientists' understanding of the molecular nature of biological processes to real-world problems. As a result, educators recognize the importance of introducing pre-college students to biotechnology.

Despite the need for an exemplary biotechnology curriculum at the high school level, many experienced teachers are unfamilar with the current uses of biotechnology and unaccustomed with techniques to introduce biotechnology into the schools. The BioREACH (Biotechnology Resource for Educational Advancement of Curriculum in High Schools) Program at Arizona State University is designed to provide high school teachers with the necessary training, equipment, supplies and resource personnel to conduct biotechnology laboratories in the high school classroom.

A sister program, the BIOTECH project, was started at the University of Arizona in January 1996 and expanded to Arizona State University in June 1997.




The overall goal of this program is to enhance biotechnology education statewide in Arizona high schools by providing teacher development opportunities through educational and technical support.




To help teachers keep abreast of the rapid advances in biotechnology, the BioREACH program at Arizona State University has offered summer courses that introduce biotechnology laboratory activities for the classroom. These workshops allow teachers to be exposed to the current uses and future of biotechnology, as well as obtaining hands-on laboratory skills and exposure to resource materials available through the BioREACH program. Teachers, however, initially have difficulty using biotechnology laboratories with their students. These teachers must overcome a variety of impediments, such as time constraints and a lack of necessary equipment and supplies. The BioREACH program provides teachers with costly materials and supplies on a check-out basis.

Moreover, for teachers who often lack the confidence to carry out biotechnology activitiess on their own in the classroom, the BioREACH program provides follow-up high school outreach support helping teachers integrate biotechnology into their classrooms. During these week-long outreach activitiess, BioREACH personnel conduct hands-on, inquiry-oriented laboratories in the teachers' classroom. This follow-up support enables teachers to transfer successfully into the classroom what they have learned from the biotechnology workshops, as well as giving students direct exposure to the current uses and the future of biotechnology.

Through sustained partnerships with the BioREACH program, teachers will gain experience related to using biotechnology in the classroom and eventually conduct a variety of laboratory activities independently with their students.




An additional outcome of the BioREACH program is the enthusiasm and interest towards biotechnology that the majority of the students have following the outreach activities. Of course, for most students this will enlighten their daily lives and hopefully allow them to make conscientious decisions regarding biotechnological issues. However, for a few students, this exposure may influence them to pursue a career in a biotechnology-related field. The BioREACH program offers guidance to these students related to educational directions and career opportunities.

The BioREACH program improves the "DNA literacy" of teachers and students so that future generations will gain an appreciation for the great benefits as well as the social impact that DNA technology will bring in the near future.


NOTE : In all BioREACH activities, no dangerous chemicals or agents are used.

Construction of "GLOW-in-the-DARK" bacteria through genetic engineering

Students take DNA from a firefly and insert it into bacteria. After this manipulation, the presence of the genetically engineered bacteria can be observed by the resulting "GLOW-in-the-DARK" characteristic. Students learn the significance of genetic engineering, not only towards bacteria, but also toward plants, animals and humans.
Crime Scene Investigation
Students are given a scenerio of a crime which has occurred and are asked to solve the mystery with the evidence left at the crime scene. A step-wise reasoning process is followed where students microscopically observe hair samples, do a blood typing experiment and conclude the activity with a DNA fingerprint analysis. After evaluating the evidence, a student-directed court case determines the guilt or innocence of various suspects.
Detection and spread of a VIRUS EPIDEMIC
One student enters the classroom and spreads a "virus" to various students who, in turn, spread it to others. Samples are collected from all of the students and assayed for the presence or absence of viral proteins. Students who have been infected by the "virus" are asked who they were previously in contact with in order to determine who was the original carrier of the virus.




  1. University or high school based biotechnology education (BE) workshop(s) to educate teachers in various aspects of biotechnology, conduct laboratory activities and to introduce the uses of the BioREACH program. Typically conducted during the summer.

  3. BioREACH personnel conduct individual high school outreach activities to demonstrate to teachers how to conduct the biotechnology laboratory activities in their classroom. Typically conducted during the school year following the summer workshop(s).

  5. Independent biotechnology lessons where teachers "check-out" the biotechnology equipment and supplies from the BioREACH program and the teachers conduct the biotechnology laboratories in their classroom. Typically conducted the school year following an outreach by the BioREACH Team.

  7. Continuing biotechnology education (CBE) workshops where teachers can expand on their biotechnology education by learning other and more detailed aspects of biotechnology and conduct new laboratory activities which may become part of the outreach program. Typically conducted during subsequent summers.



Funding for the Bioreach Program is provided by a Flinn Foundation Grant to the University of Arizona and funding from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the office of the Vice Provost for Research, Arizona State University.
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