Barnhart School to Build Biotechnology Lab to Teach Students Modern Science

Private elementary and middle school education Barnhart School is building a biotechnology laboratory to teach high school students what is happening in the world of biotechnology.

Only recently, Amgen, a company that produces medical products for people who are suffering from cancer, thru the Bruce Wallace-Amgen Foundation, provided Barnhart with modern laboratory equipment for its use in its biotechnology laboratory.

Dr. Jeff Morse, head of 7th and 8th Grade Science School said, “We believe that doing it (biotechnology class) with middle school children can get them excited about the kinds of things you can do with the Science knowledge. But also some awareness of what current Science is thinking about for the future. For these kids, they are simply transferring a gene from one kind of organism to another kind of organism and they are seeing that it is possible to put it to a plant and make the plant to survive. Or it is possible to make a plant which they would resist some weed killer herbicide.”

He said the biotechnology laboratory would allow students to gain firsthand knowledge of what is happening all around them. “I’m hoping that they get a feeling for the kind of Science that is currently out there. So instead of memorizing the shapes at leaves, they are doing things that are current part of today,” Dr. Morse added.

Instead of just sitting in a laboratory class dissecting lizards or frogs, the modern biotechnology laboratory will allow Barnhart students to come close to cutting edge Science that were undreamt of at least a decade ago.

However, Dr. Morse said the success of any biotechnology class in middle school would only be possible with a school that has a faculty willing to support such program. The program will not be possible for any school without a teacher’s support.

Fortunately for Barnhart, Dr. Morse has PhD in molecular genetics and is a geneticist by training. So for him, the biotechnology laboratory is fun.

“A lot depends on having teachers that want to share that with the students,” he said and added, “I don’t know whether you are going to see this in Arcadia High School and some of the better suburban high schools. It really should be in the Los Angeles High School. It should be in the Philadelphia High School. It has got to be everywhere but it is all dependent on having teachers that are willing to spend a couple of weekends in the summer learning what Amgen has and then going ahead and then just doing it. My school allows me to make a double period, so I work with the History teacher, I get one group to two periods, she gets another group for two periods and then we switch a couple of days. That gives us 90 minutes of uninterrupted lab time which is precious. We don’t usually have that much space.”

But more importantly, Dr. Morse was thankful for the quality of students that Barnhart has as well as the supportive parents within the school community.

He described the well-behaved students and the supportive parent community in Barnhart as the “hidden gem in the San Gabriel Valley.” Parents at Barnhart want their children to like to learn and not necessarily be successful but to enjoy school and all the aspects of learning new things.

According to Dr. Morse, he had never broken a fight at the school and has never heard students curse and say bad words.

He added, “We’d love to see Barnhart represented in a way that shows this is an interesting school. There is a philosophy that if you can provide a place for either the academic ability or artistic, the athletic or the social, if you can provide a place for some of skills to be merged, then you are providing what we call school and I think this is one of those places.”

Barnhart School offers a private elementary and middle school education for children in Kindergarten through eighth (8th) grade from the Arcadia, CA, Pasadena, CA, Sierra Madre, CA and other local San Gabriel Valley communities. Distinguishing programs of Barnhart School are the Writers’ Workshop, the 7th grade Biotech project sponsored by Amgen, Spanish at all grade levels with a conversation club at 8th grade, early literacy emphasis, the Virtues character development program, and continued integration of technology, arts, and physical education.

For more information about Barnhart, please call telephone no. (626) 446-5588 or fax no. (626) 574-3316. You can also email or check their website at

Pasadena Now has been published daily since April, 2004 and is among the very oldest continously operated community news websites in the U.S.

Pasadena Now strives to publish a full spectrum of news and information articles in service to the entire community. The publication will remain free to readers and will not erect paywalls.

Pasadena Now strives to provide factual, unbiased reporting. Our opinion section is open to all.