Arizona High School Biotechnology Programs Embrace 21st Century Skills with a Historical Twist

View Presentations from: 

Presenter: Xan Simonson, Mesa Public Schools, Mesa, AZ

Hear how the NBC2 summer institute inspired the development of teaching agricultural biotechnology, medicine, marketing and production of a real product for the community. Mesa Public Schools' Advanced Biotechnology students learn about local desert medicinal plants, how to collect them, how to harvest the medicinal constituents from them, develop formula, make and produce a medicinal balm/salve to sell.

Arizona high school biotechnology programs have grown exponentially since the inception of the Mesa Public Schools Biotechnology Academy in 2005. In partnership with the local community colleges, Mesa CC, South Mountain CC. and Arizona Science Foundation high school teachers and students have learned high level biomedical genomic research skills and bioinformatics. Students work side by side with Community College and University students and staff to conduct their research.

Xan Simonson has recently retired from her position as the Career and Technical Education Biotechnology Specialist for Mesa Public Schools. She is currently attending the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine to become a Naturopathic Doctor. Her background spans 25 years in Biology and Biotechnology teaching and as a New Mexico Deputy Medical Investigator. She developed the Mesa Public Schools Biotechnology Program and opened the first Biotechnology Academy in Arizona in 2005. Since then the number of biotechnology programs has grown to over 100 statewide and led to the development of a statewide biotechnology teacher organization, "AZ Bioscience Leaders in Education".


Tweets from the talk by @digitalbio:

"Last speaker - Xan Simonson, talking about the Arizona Biotechnology Academy - biotechnology in high schools"

"Simonson: partnered with biotech program at Mesa Community College, after several years of low enrollment, MCC is full"

"Simonson: started partnerships with Ireland and China, sharing best practices in biotech education"

"Simonson: botanical medicine in high school - project to teach about biomanufacturing, challenged to develop skin balm"

"Simonson: gave away bottles of skin balm as holiday gifts, got old ladies trying to buy them, now have medicinal plant garden"

"The room is fragrant with smell of MCC medicinal skin balm samples. Great video of students making balm: "


Be sure to check out the video, it's great!