Bioscience Academy

Foothill Technology High School’s BioScience Academy is a three-year elective program designed to give students, who are interested in preparing for careers in the health science or biotechnology fields, an opportunity to gain specialized knowledge and training while in high school.


FTHS BioScience Academy:

The BioScience Academy was established in 2003 with a Specialized School Program grant from the State of California. These funds allowed the development of a three year program that designed to provide students who are interested in preparing for a career in health care or bioscience access to advanced coursework and lab skills.

Entrance to the Academy is quite competitive and is based on academic performance, teacher recommendation and an extensive interview during the spring of freshman year. Students who are accepted to the program typically are strong in the math and sciences and clearly indicate an interest in a future in the sciences.


Academic Scope and Sequence:Bioscience fishing trip

The Academy program begins sophomore year with a specialized course that exposes students to the vast world of health care and bioscience in order to help students see the possibilities that are available to them.  During this year, students also take Honors Chemistry.

The world of health care is the focus of the junior year via Honors Physiology and Medical Technology.  These two courses together provide students with the academic knowledge and development of patient care, first aid and clinical lab skills.  They are trained in patient care, HIPAA and OSHA regulation, hospital codes, fire safety, standard lab protocol, infection control, first aid and CPR.

The students, during their junior year, are all provided the opportunity to shadow multiple professionals in hospital and clinic settings in order to see, first hand, the application of their knowledge.  They are issued scrubs and attend shadows appropriately dressed with very professional behavior. They sign a Confidentiality agreement, which we have on file and are oriented by Dr. Wong, the Medical Director at VCMC. They will have the following immunizations on file here at school and can come with their records if needed: MMR, DTaP, PPD screen, Hepatitis B, Varicella, and Influenza.

The final year of the program is quite sophisticated as the seniors spend a year studying the complex topic of Physics and work with DNA and proteins in the Biotechnology Lab course.  During the biotechnology labs, students are participating in a worldwide project called the Bar-coding of Life Initiative (BOLD). 

Their efforts include collecting particular species samples, isolating the DNA, amplifying the DNA using the polymerase chain reaction, submitting the DNA for sequencing and completing the bioinformatics necessary to submit the DNA sequence of a desired species to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). Submitting their work to BOLD allows students the unique opportunity to be published during their high school careers.  The seniors are one of very few high school classes able to participate in a school setting as citizen scientist. 

We hope to be the trailblazers for a change in science education that allows for students to be actively involved in rigorous and relevant science curriculum.  During senior year, students also have the opportunity to discuss and analyze numerous controversial topics via our Bioethics course.  This course challenges students to exam their beliefs and practices in a safe, educational format.

Academy Director: Mika Anderson
Academy Staff: Mika Anderson, Colleen Malone and John Weldele



Foothill Students Study Oarfish DNA

 VENTURA, Calif. – Jan. 9, 2014 (courtesy KEYT-TV – Santa Barbara)

 Some Ventura students are diving into the mysteries of an exotic fish that grabbed the headlines in October of last year.

Students at Foothill Technology High School are studying tissue samples from the two oarfish found off the California coast.

We know very little about these giant fish because they live nearly 3,000 feet under the ocean’s surface.

These high-school seniors are actually preparing tissues samples for DNA testing, with the help of Coastal Marine Biolabs in Ventura.

“We are going to start the process of isolating the DNA and purifying the samples.  So we can eventually get the little piece of DNA we need to build the barcode,” said Claire Jurgensen

“It just makes you really excited about science and it really is just an incredible experience to be part of such a huge global project,” said Ami Ballmer.

Once the testing is done, it will be entered into a special DNA database.

Right now there is only one oarfish in the database so the work of these young scientists will be a big help as experts learn more about these elusive creatures.

For more information on Coastal Marine Biolabs and the programs they offer go to:



Academy students will be involved in four specialized courses during their 10th – 12th grade year at Foothill. These include:

  • 10th grade: BioScience Survey

  • 11th grade: Medical Technology in conjunction with Physiology Honors

  • 12th grade: Biotechnology, Physics and Bioethics

Please see the course pages for a general scope and sequence for each course.





Job Shadows & Internships:

In addition to regular coursework, students will Job Shadow at four different locations in the county as well during their junior year, as well as be involved in an Internship during the summer before their senior year.

Partnerships in the medical and biotechnology community will be needed to establish these Job Shadows and Internships!


A Request for Community Involvement:

In order for our scope and sequence to be accomplished as described, we need several community members’ participation in the following areas:

  1. Speakers—volunteer to share your career experience with one of our classes.

  2. Class Tours—Allow for one of our classes (approximately 36 students) to visit your facility/office for a tour.

  3. Shadows—Allow a small group (1-5 students at your discretion) to follow you for a few hours while you work.

  4. Donations—We are always in need of funding for lab supplies, transportation, proper attire, administrative expenses and much more.


For additional information, please visit our Bioscience Academy Home Page

Contact FTHS BioScience Director