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Virginia Tech Helps More Than 13,000 Students Across The State Learn About Biotechnology


BLACKSBURG, Va., June 17, 2003 – More than 13,000 middle, high school, and college students in Virginia will have learned about biotechnology by the end of the current school year, thanks to equipment and assistance provided by Virginia Tech's Fralin Biotechnology Center.

In addition to 79 middle and high schools across the state, the Fralin Center also loaned equipment to four community colleges.

"Biotechnology is about science, but it's also about economic development opportunities for Virginia's communities and the potential for the creation of new cutting-edge companies that will need these very students as employees in the future," said Dennis Dean, acting director of the Fralin Center.

"Our equipment loan program is designed to familiarize young people with the promise and limitations of biotechnology," he said. "At the same time we hope to interest a number of these bright young people to set their sights on an educational path that would prepare them for employment in this new industry."

To accomplish this, the center conducts training sessions for secondary school teachers and college instructors on a variety of laboratory techniques used in biotechnology. With that training, those teachers are eligible to borrow five specialized laboratory kits that allow them to introduce to their students certain concepts and advanced laboratory techniques that are central to biotechnology.

By borrowing the kits, the teachers have access to laboratory equipment most schools cannot afford to purchase. They are also provided with all of the supplies they will need to use during experiments.

"The teachers who have borrowed our kits tell us that their students really like the experiments because they are designed to get these concepts across in ways that are relevant to them and that are fun," said Kristi DeCourcy, the center's lab manager and manager of the equipment loan program.

The five types of kits loaned by the Fralin Center provide the equipment and supplies necessary to conduct experiments and teach concepts concerning DNA science, column chromatography, immunology, and protein electrophoresis. In addition, the center also has several thermal cyclers available which can be borrowed to perform additional experiments.

The experiments made possible with the kits teach students about DNA fingerprinting, the spread of diseases in a population, the relationship of different species through an examination of their proteins, and how and why scientists can separate individual components from a mixture.

Classes benefiting from the kits were classes in biology, biotechnology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, chemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, environmental studies, marine biology, and research methods.

The Fralin Center also loans other equipment when possible to help teachers with experiments they design themselves.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: For more information about the Fralin Biotechnology Center's equipment loan program, call Kristi DeCourcy at (540) 231-7959

Fralin Center Equipment Loans - 2002-2003 School Year

AbingdonAbingdon High School
AlbertaGovernor's School for Global Economics and Technology
AlexandriaJefferson High School for Science and Technology
AlexandriaThomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology
AltavistaAltavista High School
AnnandaleNorthern Virginia Community College
ArlingtonBishop O'Connell High School
ArlingtonTeen Parenting Programs
AshburnBroad Run High School
AshlandPatrick Henry High School
BedfordLiberty High School
BlacksburgBlacksburg High School
BristolVirginia High School
BurkeLake Braddock High School
CharlottesvilleCharlottesville High School
CharlottesvillePiedmont Virginia Community College
CharlottesvilleSt. Anne's-Belfield
ChesapeakeGreat Bridge High School
ChesapeakeHickory High School
ChristiansburgChristiansburg High School
CliftonCentreville High School
ClintwoodClintwood High School
Colonial HeightsColonial Heights Middle School
CrozetWestern Albemarle High School
DalevilleLord Botetourt High School
DanvilleGlobal Village Focus School
DinwiddieDinwiddie High School
DumphriesPotomac Senior High School
FairfaxFairfax High School
FairfaxLanier Middle School
Fairfax StationFairfax Baptist Temple Academy
Falls ChurchJeb Stuart High School
Falls ChurchLuther Jackson Middle School
FishersvilleShenandoah Valley Governor's School
ForestJefferson Forest High School
FredericksburgChancellor High School
FredericksburgJames Monroe High School
FredericksburgMassaponax High School
Front RoyalRandolph Macon Academy
GalaxGalax High School
Glade SpringPatrick Henry High School
GlennsRappahannock Community College
GloucesterGloucester High School
GoochlandGoochland County High School
HonakerHonaker High School
LancasterLancaster High School
LeesburgLoudoun County High School
ManassasOsbourn Park High School
MechanicsvilleAtlee High School
MidlothianMidlothian High School
MilfordCaroline High School
MineralLouisa County High School
NickelsvilleTwin Springs High School
NokesvilleBrentsville District High School
NorfolkTidewater Community College
NottowayNottoway High School
PetersburgAppomattox Regional Governor's School
RadfordDalton Intermediate School
RichlandsSouthwest Virginia Community College
RichmondCollegiate School
RichmondDS Freeman High School
RichmondHenrico High School
RichmondMaggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies
RichmondMonacan High School
RichmondSt. Gertrude High School
RinerAuburn High School
RoanokeCave Spring High School
RoanokeFaith Christian School
RoanokeRoanoke Valley Governor's School
SpotsylvaniaSpotsylvania High School
SpotsylvaniaThornburg Middle School
StanardsvilleWilliam Monroe High School
Stephens CitySherando High School
Stuarts DraftRidgeview Christian School
SuffolkNansemond River High School
TappahannockEssex High School
TazewellTazewell High School
ViennaJames Madison High School
ViennaOakton High School
Virginia BeachFirst Colonial High School
Virginia BeachOcean Lakes High School
Virginia BeachPrincess Anne High School
WinchesterJames Wood High School