[Source: Anne Ryman, Arizona Republic] — In Mesa, high school students scrape their cheeks and use the tissue for DNA experiments. In Peoria, students clone the cells of roses. In Chandler, students use enzymes to make the beginnings of cheese. A few years after biotechnology hit the headlines in Arizona, the science is taking root in several high schools around the Valley.
The trend indicates that even as educators worry about the learning pace of many Arizona students, K-12 education is getting more sophisticated. It also comes at a time of nationwide concern about whether the United States is slipping in the science race, partly because science is not stressed enough in schools.
To boost the subject, Arizona rewrote its science standards last year. And in 2008, students in fourth grade, eighth grade and high school will have to be tested in science as part of AIMS. But challenges persist. In Arizona, for example, 1 out of 3 science teachers in Grades 7 to 12 didn’t major in a science, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.A few high schools are ahead of the curve. They have started biotechnology classes aimed at getting the average high school student interested in science. Enrollment has taken off, thanks in part to hit TV shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, in which technology is used to solve murders.
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