School News Blog



Science Current Events: Winter 2018

By Ester Teper

Autism Cure Lies with Cancer Treatments
    Several social disabilities and insecurities come with being on the autism spectrum, but new studies suggest that targeting of specific genes using an anti-cancer drug can alleviate the symptoms of Autism completely. Romidepsin, an FDA-approved anti-cancer drug, restored normal behavior in animal models of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Mice that were deficient in Shank 3, a gene that was identified in being a part of triggering ASD, were treated with romidepsin and had sustainable cures for three weeks by restoring normal Shank 3 function. Due to the fact the ASD is an epigenetic disease as well, scientists had to use histone modifiers (proteins that attach to DNA) to cause this change, and understand that the solution will not work in all cases.

Alcohol and Dementia
    A study that looked at the effect of alcohol use disorders found that 57% of cases of early-onset dementia were related to chronic heavy drinking. This strong association between the two conditions is cause for change in regulations to possibly reduce alcohol-attributable dementia. Early-onset dementia is the type that will begin before the age of 65, and usually results in premature death. The brain damage caused by alcohol consumption is preventable and can extend a person’s life by about 20 years. They also found a significant difference between the two genders: more women have dementia, but 64.9% of early-onset dementia are men. This risk was also associated with tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and more.

Neanderthals and Emotions
    A new study finds evidence that Neanderthals had a very effective and emotion-based healthcare system. The University of York conducted this study and found that the healthcare was calculated, but highly effective: the species would care for the injured based on the emotions sparked on sight. This challenges the notion that Neanderthals were brutish and lacking of human emotions; it actually shows how they genuinely cared for the members of their communities. Evidence was found showing long-term monitoring, massages, fever management, and other care. One specific instance was of a middle-aged male with a degenerative disease in his spine and shoulders. Nevertheless, the burial suggests intense care. The results of this study suggest the importance of emotions in human history and how they are often overlooked.



BTHS RAK Week 2018

RAK Week 2018 – Kindness Starts With One – Who’s Your One?
February 11th to 17th, 2018

Denver, February 11, 2018

This year RAK is encouraging individuals to tell about that one person who inspired them to be a better human being.

  • Was it a teacher who saw something in you when no one else did?
  • Is it a neighbor who mowed your lawn when you were sick?
  • What about a family member who always encouraged you to do your best?

The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation launches their annual celebration of kindness. #RAKWeek2018 begins Sunday, February 11, 2018 and goes until #RandomActsofKindnessDay, Saturday, February 17, 2018.

How to Participate:
Snap a photo of that person and share the story at! If you can’t get a photo of them, share a photo of something that represents all of their amazing qualities. You can win a kindness gift pack for them and for you! While you’re at it, how about doing an act of kindness EVERY DAY during RAK Week in their honor? What better way to pay tribute to the difference they made in your life? Now it’s your chance to make a difference in someone else’s life. Let’s do this!

Submit your photo at We’ll share entries throughout the week on our social networks and will announce the grand prize winner(s) at the end of RAK Week!

RAK Week and its impact:
Observed every February, and celebrated this year from February 11-17, 2018, #RAKWeek is an annual opportunity to unite through kindness. Led by the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation and formally recognized in 2000, this seven-day celebration demonstrates how kindness starts with one. It’s an opportunity for participants to leave the world better than they found it and inspire others to do the same.

Since inception, RAK estimates that millions of people have participated in the week-long celebration. For 2018, the last day of the event happens to be #RandomActsofKindnessDay, February 17th—making it one of the most exciting celebrations yet!

About RAK:
An international nonprofit, The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation, believes that kindness is key to making the world a better place. This nonpolitical, nonreligious organization leads the way by reminding people that they have a choice to be kind and provide free tools to make kindness common in their everyday lives. Learn more at

Rachelle Stubby
Community Engagement Manager


Passion or Perfection: What Students Are Doing Wrong 

By: Samuel Mueller

Essay from Sam's New Jersey Scholars Program Application, in response to the question: "In your opinion, what is the most important problem or challenge facing American Youth today, and what do you think should be done about it?"


Sometimes I feel trapped in a room, surrounded by my classmates yet entirely alone. I should feel happy, in place. Yet I sometimes feel isolated by the system that has formed around us. I feel awake while everyone else has turned into robots.

My generation is bent on perfection, obsessed with a hunger to be the ideal applicant for every teacher, program, and college - and even to our peers. Impeccable grades, stellar SAT scores, extracurriculars, volunteering, and leadership positions. Of course, these are all desirable attributes in a student. But along the way, many students lose themselves - or never find themselves - as they strive to become paper superstars. When do kids learn to be individuals, to stop comparing themselves to others, and to pursue what they’re passionate about?

I see my friends pad their resumes to impress college admissions officers rather than do what they love. They balance on a high wire, stretching themselves thin as they work to check off the “right” boxes on applications. They’re stuck in a rat race, competing to build superficial resumes and devoting chunks of time to activities solely for the purpose of college applications.  Such a mindset is a trap, one that I feel myself fall into at times. I’m not suggesting students shouldn’t work hard and be part of their communities. But students should run track, volunteer at the hospital and join clubs only if it interests them. Our society should value students who participate in what they love rather than pressure them to be “perfect” at everything.  

It would be naive to suggest that the concept of perfection is the most threatening problem in the country. School districts in every state struggle to maintain facilities and employ enough teachers, let alone prepare kids for the nation’s top schools. But until students realize their potential instead of reach for someone else’s, they can never achieve their own.


BOTC 2017

By: Ester Teper and Sam Mueller

This year, Biotechnology High School once again hosted its very own Battle of the Classes, an annual tradition where each class puts forth their best skills, athletes, intellects, and so much more. As always, the senior class decided the events that would occur, and this year they were quite extraordinary: a girls tug of war, a boys popsicle push-up round, relays, the dance, the wall, a hype video, and spirit week. Each of these events summed up the class of 2018, and brought the entire school together in an effort to help their grade overpower the others.

Although BOTC was held in the second half of the day on December 22nd, there were numerous events leading up to it. First off, the club Students of Service hosts an annual food drive to donate food to the needy over the holidays. This club works with the Student Government Association and the class councils to incorporate the food drive, Students Change Hunger, into BOTC. The grade to raise the greatest number of pounds of food will receive extra points on BOTC day; this year, the seniors won this part of the contest. The juniors followed up in second, the sophomores came third, and the freshmen finished fourth.

The next component of pre-BOTC competition was Spirit Week. Each day of the week of the 22nd, there was a theme. Starting with America Day, continuing to Holiday Sweater Day, Extreme Weather Day, Pajama Day, and of course, Class Color Day. Each of these days was a true test to the holiday and team spirit of the grade, and the seniors won this part by far. The freshmen were only slightly behind, coming in second, the juniors placed in third, and the sophomores got second place.

The final chance to win points prior to the event was the Can Jar, a yearly fundraiser for the senior class council. The rules were simple: a penny gives the grade 1 point, a $1 bill would give the grade 100 points, a $5 bill would give the grade 500 points, etc. Any silver coins gave the grade -1 point. Initially, it looked like the juniors were going to lose due to all of the silver coins, but they made a comeback to third place, just behind the seniors! The sophomores placed in second, and the freshmen got last place.

The relay race, one of the first events of BOTC, consisted of numerous trials. Each grade had to bring forth a group of 5 people, with at least one girl and one boy on each team. The group had to run, solve a rubik’s cube, run back, do push-ups, bear crawls, burpees, and even had the opportunity to once again solve a Rubik’s cube. This event was geared entirely towards the seniors, who exxcel at solving this mind boggling device, but the freshmen surprised many when they took first place. The seniors recovered quickly, finishing in second, while the juniors finished third and the sophomores finished last.

BOTC also saw an acapella competition between each grade. Each grade could make a team of about 10 people, and prepare any 30 second piece of a song, which they would perform for the audience. Additionally, they randomly chose a song right after performing, and had to improvise their chosen Disney musical song just minutes after performing their first song. The seniors won first, the juniors second, the sophomores third, and the freshmen fourth.

The next event of the day was a test of strength for the boys, an event of popsicle push-ups, in which four students from each grade formed a human square. Each student’s legs rested on another student’s, and each team of four had to complete push-ups together, without anyone touching the ground. The boys worked together, forming a more perfect union than ever before, and lifted each other up numerous times. The seniors won first place, sophomores placed second, the juniors got third, and the freshmen came in last place.

For the girls, there was a tug of war competition, with the first round being between the juniors and sophomores, and the second round between the freshmen and seniors. The juniors and seniors won these rounds, and then had to compete against each other. The three girls on the seniors team pulled their competition away, securing first place for this competition.

Each grade also had the opportunity to show off their computer skills in the making of a hype video. The freshmen showed the love and connection they have throughout their grade, the sophomores and juniors showed general excitement, and the seniors had a video that showed the juxtaposition between others and themselves, and how they will always rise to be the best they can be. They placed first, the juniors placed in second, the sophomores got third, and the freshmen placed in fourth.

The second to last event consisted of the wall, which the grades had to create prior to BOTC. Each grade had a theme, and the judges had a really tough time deciding on the winner of this round. The freshmen went with an astronaut theme, saying that they “blue us out of this world,” as this is their class color. This innovative slogan and combination of color and space won them last place. The sophomores, as their class color is orange, went with a Cheeto theme. They placed in third. The juniors created a wall with intricate detail, with a theme of the Jungle Book. The antagonists of the book are represented by animals in the colors of the other grades, and this design landed them first place. Finally, the seniors created an extremely well designed and flawlessly architectured 3D Spartan mask. There were handmade banners on the sides of the mask, and this theme even connected to their dance and slogan “Invinc18le.” Unfortunately, they did not receive first place for this immense amount of work, but they made up for it in other categories.

The final event was the dance. Each grade created their own song mix and choreography for their five minute showing. This year’s dance saw several creative events, including the seniors’ Spartan sword fight and the juniors’ time machine and time travel theme. The seniors took first place, with the juniors taking second, the freshmen taking third and the sophomores taking fourth.

All in all, the seniors won BOTC comfortably, with 850 points to the juniors’ 700. The sophomores and freshmen tied for third, with 425 points.


Science Current Events: December 2017

By: Ester Teper

Every month new discoveries in science are made, and with them new questions arise. Biotechnology High School students have learned about numerous instances when this has occurred. Whether it be Developmental Biology, or Biotechnology, or Forensic Science, it doesn’t matter how many answers are found, new questions will always pop up. Science never slows and never stops growing. With that, the month of December has been similar: new discoveries, new questions, new answers.

50 Years of Synthetic DNA
    December 28th marked the 50th birthday of synthetic DNA, a technology that has since then become the basis of biotechnology and most likely the future of biology. It started with a copy of 5-7 genes of viral DNA, which had been previously extracted from an organism. This plasmid DNA was copied, and synthetically replicated for future use and engineering. Now, whole genomes can be sequenced and replicated, allowing for scientists to better understand the world around them.

Fungal Infection of Snakes
    Snakes in the United States of all species, shapes, sizes, and habitats are being infected by a deadly fungal disease, caused by a fungal pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola. Specifically, it causes lesions to form on the body of the reptile, prohibiting it from normal movement, and causing a rapid spread of infection. Additionally, the fungus is found in the ground, and the snakes pick it up through food consumption. If this continues to spread, it could cause a complete imbalance in ecosystems and other species populations. This disease is also linked to a deadly chytrid fungus that is killing off entire species of bats and amphibians. Scientists are studying this disease and snakes in their natural habitats to learn more about the causes and how it affects the snakes.

The Sun’s Atmosphere
    New analysis of pictures from spacecrafts shows that the sun’s outer corona structure might be equally as structured and complex as the inner corona. This could answer questions about the origin of solar wind and temperatures in the sun. Made of charged plasma, the corona moves in loops and fans based on magnetic fields, and some escapes into the solar system as solar wind. However, it isn’t understood where the plasma gets the energy to move into the farther orbit, or why it has such high temperatures. Until now, it was believes that the outer corona was smooth, and the boundaries between the inner and outer corona weren’t clear. Recently, this boundary was discovered, as well as moving blobs and streams of plasma with a very high density (all on the outer corona). Additionally, they found that the corona becomes solar wind millions of kilometers away from the sun, and a spacecraft will be sent into the area to determine the exact location.

Summary of 2017 in Science
    The year of 2017 held numerous scientific discoveries, including various species. Bearded dragon lizards were the first, and using RNA editing scientists were able to make discoveries about how the sex of the lizard is determined. Giant larvaceans were also found, which are a species that go around and collect food, but don’t have a nose. It was an interesting discovery, as their “sneezes” send carbon into the sea. Sea spiders were used to find the use their long legs: digestive tracts, and pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body. Polka dot tree frogs were the first amphibians found to naturally fluoresce, which is a gene that biologists have been synthetically engineering and placing in organisms of decades. Upside down jellyfish were the first brainless animals found to sleep, raising questions about the origins of sleep. African elephants were found to have a need to sleep for about 2 hours a day, which is the shortest sleep requirement recorded for mammals. It was also found that flamingos are more stable on one leg than two, as their center of gravity is near its tucked-in knee. Standing in this position lets these animals save energy and sleep comfortably.

    Science has come a long way in 2017, but it has a long way to go until all of the theories are entirely proven and all species are discovered.