SYRACUSE -- Ten dollars from each student in high school science courses for lab fees just isn't enough when it comes to purchasing biotechnology equipment, especially when some pieces cost thousands of dollars.
Because Syracuse High School is one of many science programs in the Top of Utah relying on student fees, it was like Christmas morning when biology and chemistry teacher Nathan Wright got word the school would receive a donation from BioExpress, a Kaysville supplier of scientific lab equipment.
The donation included an incubator, micropipettes and vials, all worth hundreds of dollars, and a centrifuge, priced out at $5,000.
"It was like an answer to prayer, since we were in quite a bit of need," Wright said.
"Before, we couldn't incubate any bacteria or fungus, or spin materials in a centrifuge for better biotech samples, so we had to do paper labs instead. Now we can do the real thing."
Students got to use the donated equipment for the first time last week, collecting bacteria samples throughout the school and placing them in the incubator.
Before the school had new equipment, Wright said, students had to put the cultures out in the sun, where they took twice as long to grow.
Sophomore Megan Farrell is excited about the new equipment, because it means spending more time in the lab.
"Biology is complicated enough, and I'm a visual learner, so if I can't see something, it's hard to do well on tests," she said.
"We don't do a ton of labs, maybe four or five during the term, so I think doing our experiments like this (hands-on) will help me learn better."
Sophomore Trey Naylor expressed similar sentiments before heading outside to collect some bacteria.
"This sounds really awesome since it's a brand-new experiment we've never done before. We used to have to imagine experiments; now we can actually see it."
BioExpress sees the donation as merely a matter of cleaning out extra supplies. About once a year, the company evaluates its inventory and learns what Davis School District high schools need.
The centrifuge given to Syracuse High School was an eight-year-old model, still in good working condition, but customers purchasing supplies want newer models.
Other equipment in the inventory is often quality refurbished items that could still be sold at a lower cost, but by giving them to local high schools, BioExpress is able to keep its inventory fresh and help schools that have nonexistent budgets in the process, said CEO Randy Scott.
"We're more of a nationwide company, so it's hard to make an impact locally and still promote the business we're in.
"This is a way for us to help out, and hopefully, the kids will pursue a career in science someday and continue moving our business forward."