Just like the professionals, Foster High science students presented and defended research projects at the 2017 Student Bio Expo on May 19 at Shoreline Community College. The Expo was the culmination of months the students spent working with mentors—scientists in regional biotech industries—to take their ideas from conception to research study to presentation.

Foster students tackled topics as significant and far-reaching as glioblastoma multiforme and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and the judges took notice; at the end of the day, Foster participants earned a second-place award as well as three honorable mentions. As a team, they took home the highest honor, the Cup of Excellence, for their overall performance! This award is for the school that most embodies the spirit of deep scientific learning and articulation of their findings.

The organizers this year said that Foster students “have made exceptional growth in their communication about their projects,” and were very articulate and clear in their presentations. This is a testament to science teacher Tim Renz, who annually connects his students with the Bio Expo and guides their research projects throughout the school year, as well as the entire Foster faculty, who has been focusing on students’ ability to justify and explain their reasoning in all content areas. This year, student-teacher Eryn Pate was also a driving force behind the students’ success.

Foster High’s recurring participation in the Bio Expo has been hailed as a critical example of how schools statewide must connect diverse students with rigorous and relevant STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education to fuel our local economy. 

“It’s really about making it personal for this group of students,” said Renz. “They might believe that a STEM career is out of their reach, but when they begin to see what’s possible, when they experience success, when they have a mentor to inspire and model for them, when they see that science is actually interesting and about more than just being a doctor—that’s the catalyst for students to change their future.”

The annual Student Bio Expo is hosted by the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research. The mission is to provide high-school students with opportunities to interact with the scientific community and to engage in new creative ways to demonstrate their understanding of biotechnology and biomedicine. Participating students work with professional mentors on research projects, and they are able to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways during the Expo. A panel of professional scientists, artists, teachers, and students serve as judges. Many academic institutions and corporations support the Expo, including the University of Washington, Seattle Genetics, Zymogenetics, Biddle Consulting, and Fred Hutchinson Research Center. More than 25 schools usually participate with access to about 200 scientific mentors.

Foster students who participated in the 2017 Bio Expo are:

  • Kalkedan Alamerew
  • Maria Alvarez-Rodriguez
  • Jennie Cao
  • Siang Tha Dim
  • April Fuerte
  • Marlon Galdamez Phillips
  • Yaneth Garcia
  • Daniel Humkey
  • Sara Jemere
  • Andre Jones
  • Emily Lopez-Allende
  • Vivian Ly
  • Ekua Monkah
  • Emolani Morris
  • Serena Nget
  • Susan Nguyen
  • Jennifer Orellana Sanabria
  • Elijah Phan
  • Jamaica Ramos
  • Tejinder Singh
  • Piyamas Suwanchote
  • Aranza Torres Silva