Florida’s High School Industrial Biotechnology Program
In response to Florida’s biotechnology industry transitioning from primarily research and development to high growth manufacturing, initiatives have been implemented to expand the state’s biotechnology workforce capacity. Florida’s secondary Industrial Biotechnology program was developed to create a pipeline of employees with skills and competencies leading to multiple career paths in the industry. Through NSF funding to the University of Florida’s Center of Excellence for Regenerative Health Biotechnology, in partnership with the University of Florida’s Center for Precollegiate Education and Training, Santa Fe College, and the school boards of Alachua, Marion, and Palm Beach counties, a three-course framework for the program was created. A novel component of the program is the concept of using applications of science to discover, develop, manufacture, and test a product for human use, while transitioning away from the paradigm of science as academic research. As such, the program is a blend of Academic Science and Career & Technical Education.
The course frameworks align Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and Performance Standards to integrate biotechnological concepts with applied learning. Biotechnology 1 (Course Number 3027010) and Biotechnology 2 (Course Number 3027020) may be taken for 0.5 credits each of Academic and Career and Technical Education (CTE). Biotechnology 3 (Course Number 8736030) is taken for one full CTE credit. The course sequence counts for three full CTE credits eligible for the Gold Seal Scholarship. Students who complete the three-course sequence will be prepared for entry-level positions in the field, articulation into an A.S. degree program in Biotechnology, or entrance to a four-year institution (Biotechnology 1 and 2 are coded as “SV” (Science/Vocational) for the subject area indicator, and “E” (Elective) on the SUS admissions indicator identified on the Bright Futures Comprehensive Course Table).
The academic standards for the course may be found at the following links to Florida’s Department of Education website:
By design, the courses are very rigorous (level 3, aligned to high level science standards). Biotechnology 1 (course number 3027010) includes 56 academic benchmarks, the majority of which fall into the “Life” and “Nature of Science” bodies of knowledge. Aligned with these academic standards are 76 performance standards, which include applied concepts in areas such as scientific inquiry, principles of microbiology, organism structure and function, chemistry, laboratory equipment use and function, assay development, and analytical skills. Biotechnology 2 (3027020) includes 58 academic benchmarks, 84% of which fall into the “Life” and “Nature of Science” bodies of knowledge, which are also aligned with 85 performance standards as described above. Both Biotechnology 1 and 2 are core science, level 3 courses. The content of the Biotechnology program is vigorous, incorporating and integrating multidisciplinary concepts and skills from biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as advanced applications from math and language arts.
Biotechnology 3 (course number 8736030) includes 130 performance standards, which build on the concepts and skills presented in the first two courses, incorporating experimental design, advanced research, science-based applications, and data analysis. Biotechnology 1 and Biotechnology 2 provide 0.5 credits each of Academic and Career and Technical Education (CTE). Biotechnology 3 (8736030) offers one full CTE credit.
Industrial Biotechnology Performance Standards
The frameworks identifying the performance standards for Industrial Biotechnology 1, 2, and 3 can be found here.
The program (Program Number 8736000) was developed on a foundation of skills and competencies identified by industry as required, or highly desired for successful employment and professional growth. A central dogma of the program is to move away from the traditional teaching of science as an academic or basic research endeavor, and present it in the context of applying science-based knowledge and techniques to the discovery, development, and manufacture of a biotechnology-based product for commercial sale. The curriculum framework includes the use and application of specific tools and equipment used by the industry, as well as basic techniques and procedures that span the industry’s many applications. The curriculum within the context of the textbook utilized by most Florida school districts leans toward the development and manufacture of biopharmaceutical products, as well as applications to medical diagnostics, environmental, and agricultural/marine-based industries.
The combination of academic and performance standards within the framework of the courses presents a challenge to teacher certification. A teacher must hold both a valid Florida-issued educator certificate in Biology or Chemistry, and have six years of full-time, occupational experience (or equivalent part-time experience) in the field. Recognizing the challenge of finding qualified teachers for this emerging industry, Florida’s Department of Education recognizes an alternate means of district certification, which can be earned by attending Biotility’s Industrial Biotechnology Teacher Experience.