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Students Present on Biotechnology

A partnership between the Early College High School and Novozymes is giving students the opportunity to explore the field of biotechnology while learning how to present in front of an audience.

It’s called the Biotech Challenge. Eight groups of early college high school students presented their research to a panel of judges Wednesday afternoon. It’s the eighth event of its kind spanning a period of five years.

Arlan Peters, Novozymes’ Head of Sustainability says, “There are a lot of benefits to having a partnership between a school and a company like ours. We want to encourage science and an awareness of science, particularly biotechnology. There is also a lot of growth and development that occurs with the students themselves as they participate in a project like this.”

Early College High School Principal Erica Shoulders-Royster agrees, “I value the strong partnership and commitment Novozymes has had with Early College over the years conducting the Biotech Challenge.  Our students learn more about working with a team, time management, enzymes, presenting and so much more! “

The partnership between Novozymes and the Early College began when the specialized high school was created.  The district approached Novozymes to become a corporate partner and they agreed.

The Biotech Challenge begins with students taking a trip to Novozymes for a site visit. Students tour the facility, talk with employees and then are presented the challenge. The assignment is based on the efficacy of enzymes formulations in different detergents.  Enzymes are the ingredient(s) in our laundry detergent that gets rid of stains.  Different enzymes have unique effects on different types of stains.

Students are given four different detergents with varying level of enzymes.  One of the four is a mystery detergent.  Students need to figure out what it is, based on how the detergents’ enzyme(s) perform on different stains in the other detergents. They also have to come up with their own stain and test that as well.

To test the detergents, Novozymes also provides students with swatches of fabric stained with different substances and a simple washing machine.  Students work in groups of six or seven for a period of about a month on the project while Novozymes’ employees check-in on a weekly basis.

Peters says the amount students learn in such a short term is amazing, “They go from a complete unawareness of biotech to being able to very professionally talk about it in front of peers and teachers.”

Wednesday’s presentations are a culmination of the testing and research students completed over the last few weeks. Early College High School students discuss their findings at Novozymes in front of employees and their parents. Awards are given out for first, second and third places as well as an honorable mention. 

Team two took home first place this year. Teams and their members are listed below.


biotech challenge teams