Ever since biotechnology was added to the state’s Standard Course of Study for high school biology classes in 2003, teachers have sprinted for the opportunity to participate in the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s summer teacher workshops.

This year, the Biotechnology Center offered introductory biotechnology workshops in five North Carolina cities, and a genomics and bioinformatics class in Chapel Hill. Any North Carolina middle, high school or college teacher is eligible to attend.

Since the program’s inception in 1987, 1,460 teachers from around North Carolina have participated in the workshops. The 2008 workshops hosted 115 attendees alone. Teachers have returned to the classroom to bring the lessons of biotechnology to tens of thousands of students.

Each workshop is hands-on and includes wet and paper labs, lectures and occasionally field trips, such as visits to the brand new North Carolina Research Campus and to the GlaxoSmithKline zebrafish facility.

The Biotechnology Center also gives participating teachers free lab supplies and allows them to borrow lab equipment and educational videos.

Introductory Biotechnology covered basic scientific concepts and techniques in biotechnology, and instruction on how to teach these effectively. The Genomics and Bioinformatics workshop covered key technologies used in genomic science, and how to use model organisms in the classroom to teach these technologies to students.

Information about next year’s workshops will be posted in the spring online.