Research at BCA
In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama echoed the sentiments of this nation’s leaders for the past twenty years when he stated, “Nations like China and India realized . . . they could compete in this new world. So they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. . . . Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future—if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas—then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” The Bergen County Academies (BCA) in Hackensack, NJ, is attempting to do just that: invest in research and technology at the high school level in order to expose students to real world opportunities and applications they will experience in the future.
Over the past decade, highly motivated, dedicated, and visionary school administrators and faculty have believed in offering students a one-of-a-kind education expanding beyond the classroom and textbooks. This led to the development of the school’s research programs in the areas of biotechnology, cell and molecular biology, chemistry, nanotechnology, genetics and stem cell research. To this end, a number of powerful technologies were acquired, including: a flow cytometer, capillary gel electrophoresis DNA sequencer, real time (RT)-PCR, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), electrical probe station, Fourier Transform-IR spectrometer, atomic absorption spectrometer, differential scanning calorimeter, spectrophotometers (fluorescence, UV-VIS and UV-VIS-NIR) and cell culture facilities. BCA is also home to an electron microscopy suite known as the Nano-Structural Imaging Lab (NSIL), equipped with a scanning electron microscope (SEM), transmission electron microscope (TEM), and laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM).
The mission of the research programs is to expose students to scientific inquiry, research, and instrumentation and to provide transferable, firsthand experiences with the techniques, practices, and perspectives of professional scientists. By expanding the capabilities and context of secondary science education, it is expected that students will be better equipped for, and more likely to pursue leadership positions in, science, scientific research, and global-scale problem solving.