Welcome to Your Biotechnology Field Trip at the BTC Institute!

BTCI provides our students an opportunity that they could never get in the classroom.
—Jim Geoffrey, Biology Teacher, Kaukauna High School

Kaukauna High School students arrive at the BTC for a biotechnology fieldtrip.
Kaukauna High School students arrive at the BTC for a biotechnology fieldtrip.

Your bus has arrived and parked in the circular driveway at the front of the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center on the Promega Corporation campus in Fitchburg, WI. Your BTC Institute hosts – and instructors – for your field trip are Barbara Bielec (K-12 Program Director) and Ryan Olson (Biotechnology Instructor). They’ll greet you in the Atrium and direct you to a conference room where you can leave coats and backpacks, and then to the lab you’ll be working in during your visit.

Here’s a taste of what happened next for students from Random Lake High School and Wonewoc High School on December 3rd, and from Kaukauna High School on December 4th.

Lab coats, safety glasses and gloves were donned. Lab safety practices were reviewed and emphasized. Once those basics were covered (no pun intended), the instructor reviewed the plans for the field trip and began discussion of the scientific information needed to understand the objectives of the lab activity and how it fits into the broader context of biotechnology.


Attention was then turned to the protocol the students were using that day, as step-by-step students were guided as they worked though the activity. (Protocols are provided for each of the field trips offered at http://www.btci.org/k12/bft/bft.html.) There was a lot of discussion during this time and students got to model (“kinesthetic modeling”) several of the concepts with their bodies, including electrophoresis, energy changes in an atom and DNA structure. Learning the DNA cheer was a highlight!


Random Lake and Wonewoc students participated in the Bioluminescence field trip, with the first group staying until 2:00pm and also performing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for Genetic Screening. Kaukauna students came for Restriction Enzyme Digest & Gel Electrophoresis of DNA, and were here from 9:00am – 1:00pm.

It was really neat to see how PCR is used to make the DNA samples we used in school when doing gel electrophoresis. This was really good to see since our school doesn’t have the equipment needed to do PCR. We were able to do the techniques instead of just watching and taking notes.
—Dana, Student, Random Lake High School

Being able to make the cells glow by transferring DNA was really cool. It was also a neat experience to work with agar plates. It was a great lab!
—Mason, Student, Wonewoc High School

I teach an A.P. Biology class and the BTCI Bioluminescence Lab gives my students an opportunity to learn more about plasmids and genetic transformation. The students enjoyed the hands-on experience and really enjoyed making the cells glow!
—Kelly Rueckheim, Science Teacher, Wonewoc High School

Woneoc High School Students
Woneoc High School Students

The Wonewoc and Kaukauna groups had enough time to also tour the BTC production facility, as led by Barbara Bielec (Wonewoc) and Promega employees, Hope Schultz and Jackie Mosher (Kaukauna).

Overall, our sense is that we’re providing a meaningful, hands-on, career exploration experience for the students and teachers – who join us.

My students talk for days afterwards how interesting the lab activities and tour were. We have visited each year for the past three years and hope to continue taking advantage of this opportunity for a long time to come.
—Jim Geoffrey, Biology Teacher, Kaukauna High School

The field trip opened up more opportunities to learn more about science, and how people use it in their everyday lives.
—Liz, Student, Kaukauna High School

Random Lake High School student
Random Lake High School student

This field trip was great for me to be a part of as a teacher new to teaching Biotechnology. Many of these techniques I have not done myself since I was in college, and it was a great refresher. The amazing teaching staff also gave me great ideas on how to break down the content to make it easier to understand without watering down the material.
—Natalie Salkowski, Biology/Biotechnology Teacher, Random Lake High School

Wonewoc High School Student
Wonewoc High School Student

Thank you to the dedicated teachers who make all of the arrangements to provide this opportunity to their students and to the many school districts throughout Wisconsin and Illinois who support these teachers’ efforts!

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