NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Within the last few years, the Tennessee Department of Education implemented bioSTEM education standards which enabled schools to implement a sophisticated four semester biotechnology curriculum of study.

Since then, a local nonprofit has worked to provide financial, technical and curricular design support to the growing number of schools participating in biotechnology education.

 Now, a number of Tennessee K-12 classrooms are performing higher level, DNA/RNA/protein lab assays since new state bioSTEM standards.

The goal is to empower the next generation of Tennessee health science innovators and lure more biotech companies to Tennessee.

“The one thing we need more of and everyone needs more of is a scientific nastic and workforce and that’s what we’re trying to do through the teachers,” Kurt Riemenschneider said. “We support the teachers; teachers build the workforce. The workforce lures the companies and it all works together.”

The Tennessee Coalition for Health Science and BioSTEM is working to provide support and improve biotechnology, bioSTEM and health sciences education across the state. They’re doing so with the help of local biotech companies like August Bioservices, who recently donated equipment for Hillsboro High School students to use and learn about in class.

“Teaching the next generation and having them share our passion for what we do everyday, it’s priceless,” Rockann Mosser, Ph.D. a principal scientist at August Bioservices said. “That’s our future, science; it’s where we’re going. There may be someone out there who will be the next person who comes up with the cure for cancer or something amazing and it’s really cool to think about being a small piece of that.”

News 2 recently reported on a new JLL report titled “Life Sciences Emerging Markets Index: Poised for a paradigm shift,” ranks Nashville in the top ten fastest growing bio-tech hubs for job opportunities, yet more work can be done.

“We’re in competition for the biotech companies….we want them in Tennessee,” Riemenschneider said. When [biotech companies] come they bring density; they bring jobs. They bring prosperity and they bring a lot of interest in the schools.

It’s being described as a full-circle, win-win situation for everyone.

“When you fall in love with something in 8th grade, it never leaves you and this is something that needs to be done,” Riemenschneider said.

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The Tennessee Coalition for Health Science and BioSTEM also offers speakers and internships with commercial and research sectors, providing opportunities for students to balance their bioSTEM education with real world experience.

If you want to learn more or get involved, click here.