BTI program builds community through science

A student presents their project at Open House. These presentations are one of the many out-of-class activities BTI has.

BTI Website, used with permission from photographer

A student presents their project at Open House. These presentations are one of the many out-of-class activities BTI has. "Sophomores participate in a biotechnology symposium where they can hear from various biotechnology professionals in the area," said Tyler Kochel, a biotech teacher at Carlmont.

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With growing interest in the scientific field, students are seeking opportunities to excel in their career in science. 

Carlmont is a big advocate for science pathways. Along with the usual science classes, Carlmont has a biotechnology institute, also known as BTI. BTI is a program that allows students to have more than just the average classroom experience. 

“Students learn practical skills of the biotechnology industry, including making solutions, using precise measurement tools, keeping a scientific notebook, and becoming proficient in various analytical instruments,” said Tyler Kochel, a biotech teacher at Carlmont.

BTI students have a different focus each year to give them a better idea about the biotechnology industry.

“The sophomores participate in a biotechnology symposium where they hear from various biotechnology professionals in the area,” Kochel said. “Juniors are paired with mentors in the biotechnology field and learn about their career paths, what is needed to succeed in the field, and get advice on crafting a resume.”

Since 2015, BTI has led students to internships at NASA, Stanford Institutes of Medical Research, and many more. The program still offers a variety of different career paths for high school students who take the course. 

Along with teaching biotechnology, the program aims to build robust learning environments. Through field trips and activities, the students can build relationships with one another.

“There are bonding activities during lunch and study nights for the BTI students to get together and prepare for finals each semester,” Kochel said.

Such activities include notebook decorating, slime making, and working the snack-shack during football games. On Nov. 22, they held a Thanksgiving pie feast during lunch.

“The atmosphere is very casual,” said Gavin McMichael, a sophomore. “The BTI community is very close, and everyone is good friends.”

A study night will be held on Dec. 12 for BTI students to prepare for their finals.

“[BTI] allows you to build a community with other kids that are interested in the same things as you,” said Sofia Starace, a sophomore.

Relationships are highly valued in BTI and are what make it more of a community than a program. To further build relationships, students are put into science-themed core classes with one another, primarily English and history.

Pullquote Photo

The atmosphere is very casual. The BTI community is very close, and everyone is good friends.”

— Gavin McMichael

“English is more sci-fi based which I find really fascinating rather than the typical English class,” Starace said.

Along with English, students have a science-themed history class. While still learning the same curriculum as students outside of BTI, they keep science involved as well as stay with their BTI classmates.

Moving into junior and senior year, they will focus on a different aspect of the biotechnology industry. After graduation, many BTI students have studied biotechnology in college and fulfilled a career science.

Applications open February 2020 for freshmen interested in joining for the next school year.

“I think [BTI] is a really good opportunity,” Starace said. “It gives you a chance to build a community with other kids interested in the same thing as you.”

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