By JOSEPH STENDER
Science teachers from around the state gathered at Lycoming College recently for the 21st annual Biotechnology Conference.
Lycoming College and Montoursville Area School District partner each year to hold workshops for science teachers in order to show new lab activities and materials.
"Biology is changing so fast it's really easy to get stale," said Karen Avery, biology teacher.
Avery said the conferences started at a much smaller scale, but it has grown in the recent years to include 15 school districts - some which are from Pittsburgh and Maryland.
This year was a little different though as Avery explained that Montoursville students had an opportunity to run one of the four workshops at this year's conference.
Students in the Science National Honors Society at the school lead a workshop showing how to find a lethal dose of pesticide using a population of fresh water crestation.
"Instead of just doing (the project), they got a look at the preparation," Avery said.
The students used sugar to show which ones would die or live with an ultraviolet light. Avery said the students worked hard on the project and even took time outside of school to prepare.
"Most of the students don't even have me in class," she said, "They met on their own time to plan the lab."
She said with the biology field always changing, the workshops are important to make sure students are getting updated information.
"I'm going to have to make sure I'm up with the cutting-edge biology information," she said.
The conference also gives teachers ideas on how to do complex activities with a low budget. One workshop showed how to amplify DNA with a crock pot.
"Every year I come into my classroom able to do something I thought was unattainable because of lack of equipment or lack of resources," Avery said.
She said it is important to have the updated curriculum because it's a big factor on students' decisions on what career they will go into.
Each teacher who attends the conference goes home with several hundred dollars' worth of free materials to take home and use in their classrooms. Avery said it's helpful because of the decreases in funding.
"In a time when getting money is really hard, that could impact a lot of students," she said.