Red Mountain High School biotech program leading the way to new discoveries

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Students at Red Mountain High School in Mesa have a new biotech lab. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Students at Red Mountain High School in Mesa have a new biotech lab. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Bio-science teacher Katy Gazda with Red Mountain High School. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Bio-science teacher Katy Gazda with Red Mountain High School. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Students work in the new biotech lab at Red Mountain High School. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Students work in the new biotech lab at Red Mountain High School. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The biotech lab at Red Mountain High School is abuzz with excitement.

"Right now we have about 70 kids in years one through four," said Katy Gazda, a bio-science teacher at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.

The biotech lab is just like the professionals use, with prep rooms and chemical rooms. 

"It's truly like the industry this is nice students can learn about chemical storage and safety and how to pull chemicals how to stock and do labeling," said Gazda.

A local pharmaceutical company donated equipment to the program so the students could have a new clean room. Over the summer, the students converted an old storage room into a biotech lab.  

"It's considered a clean room because of the filtration process so students can use different chemicals and use them aseptically," said Gazda.

For the students in biotech 3, they get to perform their own research projects.

"I love the process of doing the science," said Abby Mann.

Mann is a senior. Her research project took her to Sedona to work with the Oak Creek Water Shed Council on their E. coli problem.

"The test they use right now takes about 18 hours," said Mann. That testing process is what Mann wants to speed up so the public can be alerted faster if the water isn't safe.

"I want to take it a step further, I want to determine the concentration(of E. coli) in the water," said Mann.

Her success so far with the project has caught the eye of ASU.

"So recently, I actually just got funded through ASU. I got a grant of $1000 to actually do this project" said Mann.

The class as a whole has had great success in competitions too.

"They go to the science fair and Arizona’s Junior Science and Humanities Emporium," said Gazda.

They have also spoken at professional science conferences and presented their work to CEOs of biotech companies last year.

"We published our first research journal for the school, so we'll continue that on each year so the students will actually be published researchers as well," said Gazda. That's a big step in the right directions for these high school students who want careers in science.

The school is hoping to grow the program in the next few years to offer more opportunities for the students.

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