Students Square Off in Ohlone College Bioscience Quiz Bowl - Press Release, Office of College Advancement

Friday, March 7, 2014
Office of College Advancement
Ohlone College

Fremont, CA-Ten teams from six Bay Area high schools competed in the Ohlone College LAB Program Quiz Bowl Thursday, February 27, buzzing in to answer questions about biology, chemistry, and biotechnology. These students are enrolled in the Learning Alliance for Bioscience (LAB) Program at Ohlone College, which engages them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. While many of their peers have yet to consider life after high school, these students have been immersed in college-level courses and are already on track for a career in emerging bioscience fields.

"Which process occurs in the cytoplasm of a cell: transcription, replication, translation, or splicing?" A quick-thinking student slaps the buzzer and belts out "Translation!" The judge announces that the answer is correct, earning the contestant enthusiastic high-fives from her team.

The LAB Program has affected the lives of hundreds of students over its lifetime. Though open to anyone in its nine partner high schools, the program has especially targeted underrepresented students who may not otherwise be considering college, and puts them on articulated career pathways. With a curriculum that is shaped by biotechnology industry partners, students who graduate from the program are ripe for hiring - a win-win for both the students and the local economy.

"Students think they're not very good at science. But then they take biotech classes through the LAB Program and find that they like it and they're good at it, and it encourages them to take it to the next level," said Dr. Laurie Issel-Tarver, the LAB Program coordinator and Ohlone College professor.

Students begin the program in high school by taking core classes in biotechnology and biochemistry, and earn college credit while completing high school graduation requirements. During this time they also benefit from supplemental instruction, tutoring, extracurricular field trips, and classroom presentations from local scientists.

Once they graduate, they have a head start in the Ohlone College biotechnology program, without having to pay for tuition or books. Ohlone offers continuous support along the way, from providing tutoring, to assisting in transferring to a four-year university or matching them up with well-paying careers in biotechnology.

For the work the LAB Program has accomplished, it has received grants from the National Science Foundation and California Community Colleges Economic & Workforce Development.

Back to the Quiz Bowl, all schools showed outstanding performances. By the end of the night, Castro Valley High School took home the first place prize, Newark Memorial's Mission Valley ROP came in second place, and two teams from Piedmont Hills High School took third and fourth place prizes. Ohlone College's Biotechnology Club generously assisted at the event.

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