SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROJECTS
Student-led research centered on biological conservation.
BioTECH features SOPHISTICATED RESEARCH LABORATORIES that are unlikely to be completely replicated in any high school. Our labs are CUSTOM FABRICATED with the latest in research equipment and supplies. The school is capable of analyzing biological, physical, and chemical samples in-house with a high degree of accuracy and precision. The labs are designed after the research laboratories one would typically find in a University setting.
Our Research Facilities
- Zoo Miami Research Station
- Next Generation DNA Sequencing Lab
- Zoology & Microbiology Lab
- Advanced Analytical Chemistry Lab
- Ecology Labs
- Marine Science Lab
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Science Village
- Next Generation DNA Sequencing Lab
- Digital Microscopy Lab
- Tissue Culture & Micro-propagation Lab
- NASA Food Lab
- Student Research Lab
Next Gen DNA Sequencing
FLAMINGO DNA EXTRACTION
Now that Flamingoes have been classified as natives of South Florida, it was important to compare DNA samples between wild/captive populations from around the world with populations from Florida. As a minimally invasive process, BioTECH students are exploring the possibility of extracting DNA directly from Flamingo feathers without harvesting blood feathers or stressing the animal by collecting blood samples.
GROWING BEYOND EARTH
Students are actively researching ways to expand food options and increase plant diversity and food production for spaceflight by evaluating multiple edible plants that meet NASA’s criteria for size and edibility. Additionally, students are working to identify vitamin rich plants that can replace the need to carry supplements on long voyages.
Students are working on optimizing throughput of native, endangered orchids in the micropropagation laboratories. In addition to modifying media, students are also working with space-age techniques to enhance the project.
SPIDER MONKEY INTESTINAL FLORA
Managing captive populations of wild animals is an important process of the conservation effort at our Zoo. Students are studying the intestinal flora of these primates to better understand nutritional needs and dietary requirements.
SCIENTIFIC THINKING Process
Our approach is systematic. Students must be able to develop the skills necessary to conduct laboratory and field work while also developing the critical thinking process required to adequately carry out an experimental design.
Students are introduced to pre-designed ecological projects with the goal of providing them the avenue by which to develop both field-based and laboratory skills. Students are also introduced to working with many of our field-based instruments.
The focus now shifts to experimental design. Students spend time working on developing their own experiments while also developing critical thinking skills as students are exposed to scientific articles, practice scientific writing, and analyzing data.
Junior year is the launch point. Students have now declared a major and will begin designing and executing their own long-term research projects in collaboration with our partners at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Zoo Miami, and Everglades National Park.
The goal is to consolidate all of the data obtained over the last year and develop a student-authored, peer-reviewed journal article for publication, thus contributing to the body of knowledge for the specific topic.
Our students are actively employing the latest in digital technologies to describe normal behavior and monitor captive behavior in order to identify pathology due to illness. The ethograms collected also serve as a valuable tool for lab and field experiments on both model organisms and ecological studies. Students currently monitor both the Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus) and Jaguars (Panthera onca).
At the core of all research conducted at BioTECH, is the push to have students develop the ability to adequately collect, analyze, and interpret data. In order to prepare students for a career in the sciences, students must be able to take analyzed data and interpret and explain trends and patterns. BioTECH focuses on developing students’ abilities to communicate their science in an effective manner in both written and oral formats. The skills necessary to read chromatograms, interpret bioinformatics data, and elucidate chemical structures using spectrometric data are practiced and taught; but more importantly, the critical thinking process is actively engaged to promote scientific thinking and student success.