College-level work done in new high school labs

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published March 7, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Hot Springs Lakeside High School students, from the left, Alex Bobosky, Regan Pelloquin and Breann Hrdlicka conduct DNA tests in the school’s new science center.

At the murder scene, police take blood samples. Routine tests find not only the blood of the victim, but also of someone else who was there. A team of technicians work to match the DNA found at the scene to one of four suspects. Police believe a DNA match will unveil the killer.

This story of forensic science is not from the latest police-procedural television show; it’s this week’s assignment for AP Biology students working in an advanced lab of the new science center at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs.

The lab team of 16 Lakeside juniors and seniors prepared its work Monday morning under the watchful eyes of teacher Lindsay Bradshaw. She said the DNA testing her class is doing is a level of science far beyond what they could do in the old high school lab.

“We could not have tried this project in the old lab,” she said. “I’m not even sure it could have been done in the lab where I went to grad school.”

Lakeside High School Principal Bruce Orr said the new science center, a $4.5 million expansion to the school, will allow the school to expand the kinds of classes that can be offered and the experiences students can have for their study.

“We are encouraging students to look at biomedical subjects and hope many will become science majors,” Orr said. “The good colleges are very competitive, and we want our kids to have the best equipment so they can be at their best and compete.”

Lakeside senior Hannah Rice said she appreciates having the new laboratories.

“It is much easier to work in this lab, to spread out and do the science,” Rice said. “I’m told it is more like college, and that should help me when I get there.”

Bradshaw said the new labs are a big step forward.

“There is more technology, with the equipment we need,” Bradshaw said. “This lab is more sterile, we have more room to work, and it smells better.”

Bradshaw stays in this classroom/lab suite throughout her teaching day, and that is important to the experiments her classes do.

“In the old lab space, I was there only one period a day,” she said. “Our projects could be tampered with or not even be there when I got back to the lab. Here, I can control all that.”

There are eight classrooms in the new science center, Orr pointed out.

Another project under way for the AP Biology class in the lab is a DNA transfer to build a new bacteria with a unique quality.

“We are transferring DNA from fireflies, actually the stuff that causes them to glow, and adding it to a bacteria,” said Rachel Otwell, 16, a member of the class. “We hope it will grow a bacteria that glows.”

Along with teaching at Lakeside, Bradshaw is also an adjunct professor at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, where she teaches Introduction to biology for non-science majors.

She said she is happy to see more young women taking advanced science classes. In this semester’s class, there are 14 young women in a class of 16.

“I have been a teacher here three years, and I have seen an increased number of females wanting to study advanced science,” Bradshaw said. “I want them to know that science is not untouchable, not unreachable, but is an everyday thing.”

Orr said that along with biology, Lakeside students study chemistry, physics and environmental science in the new science center, which opened when students returned in January from the holidays.

“What is best for the students is to have good facilities that help learning,” Orr said.

The science center is the last project in a districtwide renovation and expansion program that has gone on for several years, providing updated facilities to the schools with a cost between $15 million and $16 million.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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