Alu PCR for a New Generation

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s Barbara’s Jumping Genes!
Bringing Scientific Spotlights and NGSS to an old favorite: Alu PCR

To what extent are we our DNA? How can human genetic variations help us understand our past? This workshop will be taught by Debbie Clark, biology & biotechnology teacher from Arroyo High School. She will help us answer these curious questions with our new NGSS-aligned retake on a 20-year old classic lesson by exploring the work of Barbara McClintock.  You’ll get to isolate your own DNA and use PCR to identify your genotype for a “jumping gene” located in a non-coding region of your DNA. Then we will determine your genotype frequency and compare it with data from other people from around the world.


When: Saturday, December 8, 2018.  8:30 am – 2:30 pm.
Where:  City College of San Francisco Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia St, San Francisco CA 94110.
Take BART! It’s Easy! BART is only 2 flat blocks away (24th & Mission Station).
If driving, we encourage carpooling. Parking at the nearby garage will be fully reimbursed.
Who: Current high school and community college science teachers only.
Extras:  Breakfast, lunch, and a $100 stipend will be provided!

Thank You to our Sponsors


Kristen WolslegelAlu PCR for a New Generation

The next generation of BABEC: recap from Fall 2018 Kickoff

Saturdays are precious for so many of us! Following a full work week, we need downtime to recharge and prepare for the work ahead; we like to spend time doing fun activities with family & friends.

So it’s telling that even though the BABEC Fall Kickoff was on a Saturday, we had a packed house for the event consisting of high-school teachers, community college instructors, administrators and science educator supporters from across the Bay Area. From networking with colleagues, to learning about Scientist Spotlights, to seeing the recent updates to the BABEC curriculum and getting strategies for how to incorporate it into their classrooms, and meeting the BABEC 2.0 team – the event was one that many were glad they didn’t miss!


You can find a recap of the Fall 2018 Kickoff.

Kristen WolslegelThe next generation of BABEC: recap from Fall 2018 Kickoff

Spotlight on BABEC teacher in residence – Alton Lee

For the average person, a “teacher” is someone who is restricted to a classroom, delivering knowledge in a structured format that is assessed through exams or activities. What is rarely seen is the work that happens outside the classroom, preparing lesson plans as well as adapting ideas and curriculum to meet learning goals. BABEC relies on a close partnership with teachers to advance our mission of inspiring all students to engage in science. It is because of this that this past summer, our first teacher-in-residence joined the BABEC team.

What exactly is a teacher-in-residence? Meet Alton Lee and learn more about how he is blazing the trail for this new position.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am starting my 12th year in the classroom in the Fall, and I currently work at Woodside High School near Redwood City – where I teach Biology and Chemistry.  I previously worked at Mission High School in San Francisco, where I taught Chemistry, Principles of Biotechnology, and Physics; and Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, where I taught Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science.

 My family and I immigrated to San Francisco when I was eight, and I have lived here ever since.  My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are both from UC Berkeley.  My bachelor’s degree was in Psychology & Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) – although my slant towards MCB was more molecular. My master’s degree was in Education, and my initial teaching credential was only in chemistry – since, at the time, I did not think I would ever teach biology.

My first experience with BABEC was in 2006 as a student teacher in a chemistry classroom.  One of my teaching supervisors, who also worked for BABEC at the time, was doing a workshop on a new lab involving rainbow protein purification.  We started out with bacteria transformed with plasmids containing genes for different fluorescent proteins, and we would lyse the bacteria and isolate the proteins using an affinity chromatography column.  Perfect – my cup of tea.  I did the lab in the class I student-taught but thought that I would never do this lab (or another BABEC lab) with students again.   

That changed after about 6 months into my first job.  I was hired to teach chemistry and be part of the Health Academy.  There was no health-related content course connected to the academy.  A biotechnology course became a possibility – partly because there had been one at the school several years prior, and partly because there were schools teaching biotech courses elsewhere in the district.  That (re-)started a biotech course that continued for 7 years – outliving the Health Academy that was its impetus.

Teaching biotech changed me as an educator and a learner.  It forced me to learn biology that I ignored as an undergraduate; I was learning it so that I can help my students build connections they never thought existed.  It has helped me (re-)imagine what a 9th grade biology class can look like.  It helped me situate chemistry, physics, and environmental science within a high school science program.

 In my spare time, I volunteer, cook, and travel.  As of the end of August, I have visited 32 states and 9 countries.  

2) What is your role as a teacher in residence with BABEC? How do you interact with the rest of the team?
The team consults with me when they need a teacher’s perspective on an issue.  As we were streamlining the portable supply kits for San Mateo County BABEC teachers, I would either suggest changes to the portables or be asked my opinions about different changes.   It was all hands on deck when the entire BABEC team cleaned, serviced, rearranged, and restocked different components in the portables to get them ready for this year!The team also consulted me as they were making changes to different lab protocols, while I was working on rewriting BABEC curriculum and thinking long-term about what other curriculum materials will be of interest to teachers and students.

3) Why would working with an organization like BABEC be of interest to a high school science teacher?
I think that a teacher working for BABEC is, essentially, a mutualistic relationship.  As a consumer of BABEC’s reagents and curriculum materials, I have had my own opinions, optimizations, and customizations. BABEC, as curriculum gets worked on, needs feedback from different stakeholders – including teachers.  Ideally, teachers and BABEC staff foster a productive working relationship where teachers give feedback that results in iterative refinements to curriculum – which teachers turn around and use for their students.  Ultimately, students benefit – and not just my students, if I do my job right. 

4) What has been the most interesting experience you have had at BABEC so far?
Being consulted on multiple issues all at the same time as definitely kept my interest!  Being asked questions about portables, curriculum, and lab protocols all within one hour definitely mirrors my work in my classroom!

5) Any sage advice for future teachers in residence?
It’s about balancing needs of different stakeholders – and thinking big picture.  It’s about thinking beyond just my classroom, my students, my colleagues, my school.  It’s about envisioning the needs to students and teacher across multiple spectra, while balancing the realities of a nonprofit trying to make as broad of an impact on student learning as resources can allow.

Kristen WolslegelSpotlight on BABEC teacher in residence – Alton Lee

BABEC at San Francisco Unified School District Science Professional Development day

Summer is almost over for many in the Bay Area and as students prepare for their first day of school, so too are teachers preparing for the new school year with a day of professional development.


For the second year, the BABEC team was invited to host a workshop for SFUSD science teachers during their Science PD day.  In addition to introducing them to BABEC’s growing team and starting a discussion about how BABEC can better serve the SFUSD science community, we had an opportunity to walk them through lab management and lesson plan particulars surrounding BABEC’s Bacterial Transformation curriculum.



The workshop ended with a presentation from Karen Leung about the Biotechnology Program at City College of San Francisco.



Special thanks to Sarah Delaney and the SFUSD Science Team for inviting BABEC to participate!


Kristen WolslegelBABEC at San Francisco Unified School District Science Professional Development day

The teachers behind BABEC curriculum updates

One of BABEC’s core values is to be responsive to teacher needs by providing relevant, teacher-generated content. This summer, BABEC has been working to meet that core value by updating and aligning our curriculum with to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Any seasoned educator will tell you this is a Herculean task, so we have been extremely fortunate to be working with teachers across the Bay Area to help us tackle this project.

Given all their hard work, we wanted to introduce you to this amazing team that has been working side-by-side with BABEC personal. We could not have done this without them!

Debbie Clark
Debbie teaches biology and biotechnology at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo and since 2012 she has been a biotechnology teacher for the Advanced Talent and Development Program at Cal during the summer. She became involved with BABEC in 2002 and is currently a BABEC board member. Debbie is very excited to be part of updating the BABEC curriculum as she wants more teachers to experience the excitement she’s had over the years using BABEC lessons. She hopes that the NGSS aligned lessons will encourage more teachers to participate in BABEC trainings and bring  this curriculum to their students. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening and honing her skills as a novice birdwatcher.

Elizabeth Doggett
Elizabeth teaches biology and biotechnology at San Mateo High School and have been using BABEC curriculum since her student teaching days at Sequoia High School. The bacterial transformation lab is an essential part of Elizabeth’s curriculum so she has been excited to help with making it more accessible to English Language Learners as it provides an elegant context for students to ask questions and deepen their understanding of genetic engineering, the role of DNA in determining traits, and is just a fun, awe-inspiring lab. When not tackling curriculum, Elizabeth has spent her summer traveling to Africa with her husband, including a safari in Tanzania where they witnessed amazing ecological population dynamics in action!

Michelle Lafevre-Bernt
Michelle teaches Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology at San Marin High School in Novat and has used BABEC curriculum since 2009. She volunteered to help with the updates because she believes that the BABEC curricula are a valuable resource to those who teach and learn biotech in the San Francisco Bay Area, and believe in the BABEC mission to bring current, relevant biotech experiences to students. Michelle have worked extensively on aligning  the life science curriculum for her school district with the Next Generation Science Standards, making her a valuable resource as BABEC updates and aligns their curricula to NGSS. In her down time, Michelle enjoys reading, gardening, hiking and camping and recently spent time in Washington DC with her brother, sister and their spouses.

Kent Morales
Kent teaches Biology and Physiology at San Rafael High School and have been using BABEC curriculum for four years. Working on this curriculum allows Kent to learn more about biotech and teaching from the wonderful teachers and professionals on the team. It also has allowed him to reflect on how we can make biotech more exciting and accessible for our students so that they can possibly pursue a career in the field one day. When not swimming or working in the yard this summer, Kent have been preparing for a backpacking adventure with his wife and two young children in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Patrick Roisen
Patrick teaches AP Biology and Integrated Science at Menlo-Atherton High School, has been using the Gene Connection/BABEC curriculum for 25 years and part of BABEC for 24 years. Patrick volunteered to help update the curriculum because he feels biotechnology is incredibly important for students to learn about, both for possible careers, but also so they can make informed decisions about the laws that need to be developed around biotechnology. This summer, Patrick went to Norway, and climbed up to see a glacier up close.



Denise Kwan
Denise teaches Biology for Newcomers and AP Environmental Science at Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. She is new to the BABEC community and used its curriculum for the first time last year! Denise volunteered to help with the updates to make the information clearer to other teachers who are new to BABEC. This summer, Denise went to Europe with her family; her favorite landmark was La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.


BABEC curricula update work is sponsored by: 

Kristen WolslegelThe teachers behind BABEC curriculum updates

Meet BABEC’s summer high school student intern!

Meet BABEC’s summer high school student intern, Christina Lin! Christina started working with BABEC in June and has been helping with reagent preparation and getting the portable laboratory updated and prepared for the 2018-2019 school year. We’ve greatly enjoyed having her join our team.

Some of you may be curious as to what a BABEC summer high school intern is and what they might do. To answer that, we sat down with Christina for an informal Q&A.

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and raised in the Bay Area and am currently going to school at San Mateo High School. Of all the classes I have taken, my favorite classes have always been my science classes because I love trying to understand how things work. Whether as a tutor for biology or as president of my high school’s Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club, a club that I started in order to get other girls excited about STEM fields, I want to share my passion for science with others.

I am strongly considering pursuing a career in the sciences, so my internship at BABEC has given me a better idea of what this might be like. Music is also a huge part of my life as I play both the piano and violin. As concertmaster of my school orchestra, I have played throughout the community and in the orchestra pit for multiple musical theater productions. I also play with the Peninsula Youth Orchestra and have especially enjoyed playing on international tours in Europe. In addition, I enjoy volunteering in my community, helping patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and being an active member of my city’s Youth Activities Council.

How did you learn about interning at BABEC? Why was this opportunity interesting to you?
The practical applications of biotechnology can be seen all around us, and I am excited by how biotechnology

can be useful in research and future discoveries. I was first inspired by biotechnology when I was in middle school and had the opportunity to extract and analyze DNA in a summer science program. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to continue biotechnology as a class at San Mateo High School with its state-of-the-art labs and training facility. Through my high school’s biotechnology program, I was able to get an internship with BABEC. Not only has my internship at BABEC help me gain more hands-on laboratory experience, but it has also given me the opportunity to help provide biotechnology experiences to other Bay Area students who may not have had this exposure otherwise.

What have you been doing as an intern?
As an intern at BABEC, I have had the wonderful opportunity to gain real-world work experience. I have helped with refurbishing portable biotechnology labs and making sure that everything is in working order for the upcoming school year. I have also gained hands-on laboratory experience by preparing a variety of chemical reagents, performing plasmid preparations, and learning other exciting laboratory procedures and skills.

What’s been your most memorable experience?
I have been thoroughly enjoying my experience at BABEC, but my most memorable experience would definitely be of the people that I work with. I have been excited to learn new things and to work side by side with experts in the science and education field. I am also inspired by the group’s mission and enthusiasm of making biotechnology education available to everyone.

From a student perceptive, why is BABEC important for the biotechnology/biosciences community?
The biotechnology industry is growing, and I believe more students need to be introduced to advancing technology in the biosciences. It is wonderful that BABEC provides teachers the opportunities to practice real science in their classrooms by giving them the materials and tools that they need to accomplish this goal. Students learn better with hands-on exposure through laboratory experiments, and many of these experiments make learning more fun and exciting. BABEC supports an active-learning model, and I believe that their work will help prepare and inspire the scientists of tomorrow.

Thanks so much Christina for chatting with us today! For more information about future internship opportunities, please monitor our Job Openings page or Contact Us for more information.

Kristen WolslegelMeet BABEC’s summer high school student intern!

BABEC Fall 2018 Kickoff

September 8, 2018 @ Skyline College – Register Here!

BABEC 2.0 – Curriculum Classics for the New Era!
Please join us for an engaging and inspiring day of community with other biology and biotech teachers from across the Bay Area. The theme for this year’s event is “BABEC 2.0 – Curriculum Classics for the New Era”, and is the official release of our much-anticipated curriculum updates

Keynote Address

Highlighting Diversity While Covering Biology Content
Jeff SchinskeDr. Jeff Schinske
Biology Instructor, Foothill College
Principal Investigator & Co-Director, NSF CCB FEST
Co-Principal Investigator & Co-Director NSF CC Bio INSITES

Jeff’s research focuses on equity and inclusion in science classrooms, the underrepresentation of community colleges in biology education research, and faculty development. He will present the latest research into how conventional stereotypes of scientists adversely affect students by inhibiting diversity in STEM fields. He will also discuss tested classroom strategies for educators to combat these biases.

Location & Parking

Venue: Skyline College, 3300 College Drive, San Bruno, 94066
Campus Location: Building 6, Second Floor Conference Area
Parking:  Park in Lot M.  Campus parking is free on weekends
Detailed Directions: HERE
Campus Map: HERE


8:30am  Breakfast & networking

9:00am  Welcome

9:15am  Keynote Address by Dr. Jeff Schinske “Highlighting Diversity While Covering Biology Content”
Learn how Scientist Spotlights can diversify students’ preconceptions about scientists and boost interest and engagement in STEM among underrepresented students

10:30am BABEC Curriculum Updates and Teacher Discussion Panel
Learn what’s new from BABEC, then hear from teachers about their strategies, insights, and greatest challenges with bringing biotech lessons into their classrooms

11:30 am Concurrent Workshops, Session 1
An open house with in-depth training and drop-in activities. Topics include:
* Getting Started with Bioscience Lab Skills: new activities to teach the basics
* DNA Forensics: new adaptations to an old favorite
* Bacterial Transformation: new options for a wider variety of learners
* DNA Analysis with PCR: modernized approaches for all students to analyze their own DNA

12:30pm Lunch + Learn
Visit a “drop-in discussion table” and network with your colleagues. Topics include:
* Talk to an NGSS Expert
* Learn strategies for teaching biotech to English Language Learners
* How to use Scientist Spotlights
* Biotechnology Supply Chain Operations Project for Education
* How to partner with BABEC

1:30pm Concurrent Workshops, Session 2
Didn’t have time to see & learn everything the first time? Come back for more! Same topics as Session 1

2:30pm Adjourn

Speaker Bios

Dr. Jeff Schinske is a biology professor at Foothill College. His research focuses on equity and inclusion in and outside of science classrooms and he serves as lead biology curriculum reviewer for California’s statewide articulation system. Jeff has published numerous articles on teaching and learning and recently appeared as a senior author in a high profile study measuring faculty teaching practices in STEM classes

Gianne Souza teaches Biology at Abraham Lincoln High School and has a Master’s degree in Medical Science from UCSF. Gianne has adapted Scientist Spotlights for her classroom, which have positively impacted her students perceptions about modern-day scientists and the work they do.

Debbie Clark teaches biology and biotechnology at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo and since 2012 she has been a biotechnology teacher for the Advanced Talent and Development Program at Cal during the summer.She became involved with BABEC in 2002 and is currently a BABEC board member. This summer, Debbie worked on aligning two of BABEC’s PCR curriculum to NGSS.

Dr. Michelle LaFevre-Bernt teaches Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology at San Marin High School in Novat and has used BABEC curriculum since 2009. This summer, Michelle worked to align the Bacterial Transformation curriculum to NGSS.

Alton Lee teaches chemistry and biology at Woodside High School and is BABEC’s first teacher-in-residence. In addition to tackling the DNA Forensics curriculum for NGSS alignment, Alton has sent the summer helping BABEC with other curriculum updates.

Elizabeth Doggett teaches biology and biotechnology at San Mateo High School and have been using BABEC curriculum since her student teaching days at Sequoia High School. The bacterial transformation lab is an essential part of Elizabeth’s curriculum so she spent the summer adapting this curriculum to make it more accessible to English Language Learners.

David Frischer is the lead teacher for and proud alumni  of the Biotech Pathway program at Abraham Lincoln High School. The Biotech Pathway program uses BABEC curriculum as a backbone for its curriculum and relies on BABEC’s support in implementing a Biotech Week, which exposes students to the concepts and applications of life science based research. 

Thank You to our Sponsors


Kitty MeiBABEC Fall 2018 Kickoff

Spring 2018 – Mitochondrial DNA Workshop

Save the Date! Saturday, February 10th 2018

Discover where you are really from! Learn about Mitochondrial DNA and its role in human ancestry.

Join us and learn how this curriculum makes teaching NGSS easy! We will be covering PCR, Sequencing, and SNPs.

Register Here!

  • Breakfast, lunch, and a $100 stipend will be provided
  • Its FREE! To reserve a seat, please pay a $25 deposit fee which will be refunded to you upon arrival (if you need to cancel, please do so within 72 hours or the deposit will be forfeited)
  • Take BART! BART is only 2 flat blocks away (24th & Mission Station). If driving, we encourage carpooling and parking at the nearby garage will be fully reimbursed.
  • High school and community college science teachers have priority for this workshop.


City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus
1125 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110


  • BART: 2 blocks from the Mission & 24th Station
  • Driving: Parking fees will be reimbursed by BABEC when parking at the Mission-Bartlett Garage


  • Saturday, February 10th 2018
  • 8:30am – 3:30pm
  • Please plan to arrive at 8:30am for a breakfast and networking. Workshop will start promptly at 9:00am
Kitty MeiSpring 2018 – Mitochondrial DNA Workshop

Wolbachia Lab

On November 1st, 2017, six teachers joined us for an informal Wolbachia training, which grew out of individual teacher’s need to get experience.  Wolbachia lab empowers educators to bring real-world scientific research into the classroom with inquiry, discovery and biotechnology. Teachers learned techniques to test for the presence of the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia in insects of various orders. Ralph Hammond subsequently did the lab in his Biology classes, reporting that 40% of samples tested positive for Wolbachia.  Good Job Westmoor Students!  Do you need training on a specific protocol?  Please contact us, and we can explore options together


Kitty MeiWolbachia Lab

Bacterial Transformation with a NGSS Twist

On October 28th, 2017 teachers from the Bay Area joined us at our Bacterial Transformation workshop. After observing phenomena of natural and induced bacterial transformations, teachers incorporated a green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea Victoria into a plasmid along with a gene for resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin. Teachers were excited to learn how to make white bacteria turn green!

Kitty MeiBacterial Transformation with a NGSS Twist