A Look Inside Amgen Biotech Experience Labs

Aug 15, 2016 9:15 AM ET

Science is fascinating. It tells us who we are, what we’re made of and provides insights on how we can potentially solve huge problems, from cancer to climate change. But students can sometimes find the subject confusing, overwhelming and boring. In fact, in a recent survey commissioned by the Amgen Foundation and Change the Equation, nearly half of teen respondents said science is confusing, and 25 percent said it is gross. By providing youth hands-on and real-life applications of science, we can engage students, increase science literacy and show them how cool science can be. That is the purpose of the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE): to spark a love of science.

Ever wonder what takes place during ABE? The infographic above shows what happens in each of the labs, which students perform in the classroom. Hard to believe students can genetically modify bacteria in their high school classroom, right? But that’s exactly how today’s scientists, like Margaret Karow, executive director of Process Development Biosimilars at Amgen, develop potentially life-saving therapies and work to eradicate diseases.

“This lab lifecycle is the backbone of biotech,” Karow says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s drug discovery or basic research, we use it all the time.”

That’s why these labs are so engaging for both students and teachers, Karow says. Because they are working on subjects that have a very practical use, the labs have more meaning for the students. And the fact that they’re treating diseases, something they can relate to their own lives, makes it even more engaging.

“I have been very impressed by how engaged and excited the teachers are — and that can only spill over to the students,” she says.

When students can relate what they’re learning to life outside the classroom, they’re much more likely to take an interest in the subject. And that’s the ultimate goal of ABE labs — to get students interested in and excited about science and its potential to change the world.

tch ABE in action, follow the #BiotechExperience conversation on Twitter and learn how to get involved here.