School News Blog



Getting to Know Mr. Montel: 50 Rapidfire Questions

​​By: Sidharth Raj

Get to know our new Biology and Environmental Biotechnology teacher Mr. Montel in this round of #50RapidFireQuestions! 

Filmed by Jeremy Lesser


2018 DECA State Career Development Conference

DECA, which has been previously known as Delta Epsilon Chi or Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an international association that hosts competitions in the fields of marketing, finance, hospitality, and business. DECA consists of high school, collegiate, and professional chapters, allowing students to participate even after they have graduated from school.

On February 27th and 28th, students from Biotech’s DECA chapter and advisor Mr. Evancho travelled to Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City to compete at the annual DECA State Career Development Conference. Students took part in a variety of different competitions, all related to various business concepts. The two main types of competitions were role-plays and presentations. Students competing in the role-plays were presented a business situation that they needed to respond to. Students competing in the presentations prepared a specific business plan and presented it to a panel of judges, who were venture capitalists looking to invest in a particular business. Between these two types of competitions, we returned with four finalists: Thriaksh Rajan, Odhran King, Rohit Sivananthan, and Alyssa Thomas.

Finalists Odhran King and Thriaksh Rajan
Apart from competing, our delegates enjoyed “Downtown DECA,” which was a hallway filled with games such as life-sized connect four, karaoke, and Just Dance. A few of our students were “voting delegates,” which meant that they were able to vote for the next executive officers of NJ DECA. Students also took selfies with current DECA state officials to acquire more ribbons to add to their lanyards.

A selfie with the BTHS chapter and DECA state officers
Overall, DECA was a fun and rewarding experience and we hope to continue to participate in the future! 


BTHS Junior State of America Chapter Takes Winter Congress 2018

By: Sam Mueller

BTHS showed up to the Junior State of America Mid-Atlantic State Winter Congress with spirit and style. Over 80 students from the Biotech JSA chapter travelled to Washington, D.C. from February 23-25 to debate mock legislation and meet other like-minded, politically active high school students. After making the trip down to the nation’s capital and touring national museums, the BTHS JSA delegation joined up with 1,200 other students to listen to keynote speaker Eric Schultz, who served as White House Deputy Press Secretary and special assistant to President Barack Obama.

Debates over student-written bills began the next morning, several of which were created by BTHS students. JSA delegates were divided into several different Congresses, each composed of a House of Representatives and a Senate. Debates over social issues, economics, and more continued for the rest of the weekend.

At the end of the weekend, BTHS saw large success, with many of the chapter’s students earning Best Speaker gavels and seeing their bills passed through Congress.

JSA Co-president Lana Salloum was proud to see her chapter succeed. “Biotech JSA brought the largest delegation to Winter Congress in Washington, D.C. this year and we definitely brought the most spirit as well,” Salloum remarked. “We were able to visit two of the museums in the National Mall and even take a midnight monument tour! Not to disappoint, Biotech JSA won the most Best Speaker gavels out of any other school.”

In addition to earning the most Best Speaker awards as a chapter, several groups of BTHS students saw their bills pass through Congress.

Campaigns for Mid-Atlantic State elected positions began at the end of Winter Congress. BTHS JSA saw two of its members declare their candidacy: Neha Nandiwada for MAS Lieutenant Governor and Nikhil Kalyanraman for NJR Vice Mayor. Both candidates explained why they’re running to make change in the Junior State of America:

“My name is Neha Nandiwada, and I am ecstatic to be running for Lieutenant Governor of JSA. I’ve been involved in JSA for the past three years, and my love for the organization has grown unquantifiably. With the experience and the unique ideas I bring, I hope that I can help JSA continue fostering the power of the youth”
~Neha Nandiwada, MAS Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate

“I love JSA because it has allowed me to become a more effective communicator, and has allowed me to create and rekindle many friendships. I am running for NJR Vice Mayor because I want to give back to this great organization and because I believe that my platform allows for the Mid-Atlantic State to reach its full potential by increasing efficiency and accessibility.”
-Nikhil Kalyanraman, NJR Vice Mayoral candidate

Senior Tyler Sapp, nominating Neha Nandiwada for MAS Lieutenant Governor
The BTHS JSA chapter is behind Nandiwada and Kalyanraman as they embark on their campaigns, and is ecstatic for those of its members who won a Best Speaker gavel and saw their bills passed. Winter Congress 2018 was a success across the board for BTHS, as the ever-growing chapter continues to find success in the Junior State of America.



By: Andrew Miller and Sanjit Basker

Cryptocurrency is a very popular topic in the news right now, and rightfully so. The prospect of a currency controlled by the people as opposed to a central bank is a very interesting one. The most popular cryptocurrency, which grew massive amounts in 2017, is Bitcoin. Effectively, there is a set number of Bitcoins that can ever exist, being 21 million Bitcoins. This means that, rather than the value changing due to supply, the value of Bitcoin is solely affected by how people are trading it. This is a very interesting prospect, as a lack of central control means that Bitcoins are effectively only worth what a person values them at. You may be wondering “but how do I secure the Bitcoins so I know which Bitcoins are mine and which belong to a deep web assassin?”. This is solved by the mechanism of blockchains that makes up Bitcoin, shown in this diagram:

What’s interesting about this technology is that it provides a public ledger showing who has made what transaction with Bitcoins. However, many people aren’t using bitcoins as a means of transaction, instead investing in it to hold onto as a long term investment. While this does mean that prices will eventually suffer, it still shows that a decentralized system of commodities such as Bitcoin is possible in the digital realm. There are other notable cryptocurrencies, however. For example, Ripple (XRP) has seen a great year, rising in value from a fraction of a penny to over $3.00, a growth percentage of over 50 000%. Other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Litecoin have also seen unbelievable growth in 2017, with more to come.

One additional part of Bitcoin that has gathered attention is called Bitcoin mining. Imagine that a classroom of first graders is given a problem: to add up all of the numbers from 1 to 100. Most first graders would have no other strategy than to start adding from 1, and thus, the classroom would be in a race. Similarly, people that choose to mine for Bitcoin (or cryptocurrencies in general) are in a lottery, and the first person to solve a computational problem (in this case, a more difficult problem that requires nothing but computational work) receives a prize. The prize is a small amount of Bitcoin, and the winner’s solution is used in order to encrypt a list of transactions. Thus, all involved parties (the Bitcoin system, the users, and the miner) benefit.

Humans building a bitcoin mining computer.

In order to function, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely on blockchains. A blockchain is just what it sounds - a group of blocks that are brought together. Each block consists of transactions in a short period that are verified by a certain amount of computational work. Blockchain technology can be used not only to record transactions, but also any information that is valuable. Blockchains provide to users the flexibility of working in the same “version” of a document, or as it is called, a ledger. In addition, changing earlier parts of this ledger requires a highly impractical amount of computational ability; specifically, a person who wanted to forge information on a ledger would require over half of the computational ability in the world in order to continually verify blocks and add them to the blockchain without being beaten by other miners.

As STEM students, it is essential to know the technology changing the world right before our very eyes. Cryptocurrency is an excellent example of this, and most likely we will only see more of it as time goes on.


DIY Gifts

By: Nivedita Nambrath

The holiday season and Valentine’s Day may be over,  but there are always opportunities to spread cheer for us Biotech students. Here are some easy and thoughtful DIY gifts you could make for friends and loved ones.

[1] Candles

  • There are tons of different candle recipes to be found online, with scents ranging from vanilla to coffee to funfetti. After you make your candle mix, using whichever recipe you like, you can pour the mix (while it’s still hot) into all kinds of pretty and creative candle holders, like decorative tea cups, mason jars, votive holders, seashells, and more. Click on this link for some very creative ideas for DIY candles and candle holders.

 [2] Food Kit

  • This is a very versatile gift that just about any one would love. If you have a friend who is particularly enthusiastic about hot chocolate, fill up a jar with some chocolate powder, sugar, and marshmallows, put a nice label on it, and you have yourself a handmade hot chocolate mix. Food kits are also perfect if you have a friend who enjoys cooking or baking. Put together the ingredients and tools necessary for a particular recipe that you think they might enjoy, add a printout of the recipe itself, and package in a bottle, box, or some other form of aesthetically pleasing packaging. It’s a great gift that anyone would enjoy!

[3] Terrarium in a Jar Kit

  • For the gardener or plant lover in your life, this makes a great gift. Obtain a mason jar, and fill it with about an inch of small stones. Include a little package of charcoal and potting soil, and some succulent seeds, or some small, young succulents. You can label your jar with these very nice terrarium labels, which include directions on how to use the jar.

[4] Scrapbook/Travel Kit

  • For any crafty people who like creating things, or for people who enjoy travel and photography, a scrapbook kit is a great idea. Simply put together a photo album, some stickers, stamps, decorative tape, and other scrapbooking tools that you think the receiver might enjoy, et voila! Everything you need to make a timeless scrapbook. The great thing about this is that you can customize it to match that person’s style and preference. It’s fun to make, fun to use, and very thoughtful!

[5] Soap

  • Everyone loves a good bar of soap. Handmade soap is surprisingly easy to make if you have the necessary items. There are a variety of soap recipes online, many of them all-natural and vegan for the environmentalist in your life. As the soap-maker, you have the ability to make the soap smell however you want, which gives you the great ability to personalize your gift in an exciting variety of ways.

These five gift ideas are sure to be loved by anyone, but in the end, it’s the thought that counts. The best gifts are the ones we cannot buy, or touch or see. So make sure to spend some time with those who matter to you, and let them know just how much you love them, because that will always be the most precious thing of all.