High school science experiments reach PhD levels

Posted at 9:54 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 01:07:59-05

There are several scientists in Douglas County who are pushing the biotech field into the future, but there’s a catch -- they haven’t yet graduated high school.

A group of senior biotech students at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch are using state-of-the-art equipment to work on projects that will help amputees, restore soil ravaged by mining waste in South Africa and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s  -- among other projects.

Shawndra Fordham is the biotech teacher at Rock Canyon and says she merely assists the students in their work.

“It’s been so much fun watching them be successful, watching them take risks... and risks complete failure because it’s science and there’s a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong,” said Fordham.

Some of the equipment they’re using is unique in a high school setting. Last year, Fordham’s classroom got a $24,000 grant for two large research grade biological safety cabinets. Typically, equipment like this is only seen in high-level university science labs.

“This is [an] extremely incredible opportunity for the biotech kids so that we get to do this before we go off to college,” said Allison Kerker, who’s a senior biotech student.

The students we spoke with haven’t chosen a university to attend next year yet.  Although not surprisingly, names like Stanford, Harvard and Brown Universities were thrown around.

Fordham says the program is getting so popular, next year students will have to apply to get accepted.


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.