South San Francisco High School campus

This STEM Program at SSFUSD is Ready for a Spinoff

KTSF-26 recently interviewed South San Francisco High School teacher Rocky Ng and seniors Rey Alferez and Kailyn Lee in conjunction with the launch of Futurelab+, an expansion of a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiative that originated in South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD). 
KTSF-26 interviews South City High student Rey Alferez. KTSF-26 interviews South City High biotech teacher Rocky Ng. KTSF-26 interviews South City High student Kailyn Lee.
Futurelab, which biotech company Genentech launched in 2015, introduces K-12 students to concepts, classes, and careers in STEM.
The Futurelab mission to get students excited about science and interested in pursuing STEM careers was accomplished through the construction of the Science Garage, a state-of-the art biotechnology lab at South City High, the creation of a mentoring program for SSFUSD’s low-income students, and an annual science competition involving the district’s three middle schools.
As students in Mr. Ng’s biotechnology 5-6 class, Kailyn and Rey learn about microbiology, molecular biology, and virology, while working on research projects in the Science Garage and using quantitative analysis to record their results.
“I took this class, because I want to be able to apply what I’m learning here to everyday situations,” said Kailyn,” and since I’m going into physical therapy, I want to be able to work well with other people in these situations.” 
In the fall semester, students carry out experiments in phage or viral biology to evaluate hypotheses. Then they produce presentations and research papers about their projects in the spring based on data gathered by sequencing the genomes of the viruses they have created.
South City High biotech teacher Rocky Ng helps students grow bacterial cultures.
“Mr. Ng is very helpful and really wants to make sure we all learn and know all the steps,” said Rey. “He is concise and consistent with all that.”
According to Ng, the curriculum he teaches at South City High was developed by SSFUSD through the district’s career technology education (CTE) program in conjunction with Genentech.
He said all high school students from across the district are now able to come together in the Science Garage lab. 
“Last year, the district started bringing students from El Camino High to the Science Garage, so that they could make use of the facilities,” said Ng.
To scale the impact of Futurelab beyond SSFUSD and across the country, Genentech introduced the new Futurelab+ initiative.
Futurelab+ consists of a new, open-source biotechnology curriculum; a volunteer program that connects Genentech employees with schools that have adopted the curriculum; and financial and professional support for science teachers working at high schools that qualify for federal funds through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1966.
More information about Futurelab+ is available at:
South City High biotech students in the Science Garage