The Amgen Biotech Experience comes to NSW high schools

Thursday, 14 September, 2017

The Amgen Foundation, in partnership with the University of Sydney, has launched the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) in Australia as part of a global $10.5 million investment in science education. The project will engage an expected 5000 students and 60 teachers in NSW over the next three years.

For nearly 30 years, ABE has empowered high school science teachers in the US, Puerto Rico, the UK and Ireland to implement real-world biotechnology labs in their classrooms to help their students better understand science and how it influences their daily lives. The three-week in-class lab initiative provides teachers with professional development, teaching materials and research-grade equipment to help educate students about the techniques scientists use to discover and develop medicines.

The foundation has now announced that it will bring the program to Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands and Singapore. By 2020, ABE is expected to reach nearly 900,000 students in 18 regions around the world.

“The Amgen Biotech Experience has already been well received by schools around NSW participating in the pilot, and it’s been amazing to see the students learning so much from this experience,” said Dr Hannah Nicholas from the University of Sydney.

“Previously, biotechnology was an optional element of HSC biology, but now that it is a core component, we are excited to support schools in this aspect of the curriculum.”

Results of an independent evaluation by WestEd found that students participating in ABE show significant and substantial gains in medical biotechnology learning, as well as increased confidence and interest in science and biotechnology. And with STEM jobs projected to grow at almost twice the rate of other occupations, according to Jackie Randles from Inspiring Australia, the ABE program could be just what Australia’s young people need.

“Participation in the Amgen Biotech Experience will help students imagine what the future workforce will be like and develop the critical thinking skills they will need to meet the technology and innovation challenges that are transforming Australia’s economy,” said Randles.

Professor Judy Anderson, director of the University of Sydney’s STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy, added that the program is also beneficial for teachers, stating, “It is important to keep teachers engaged in and inspired by the curriculum they are teaching, as this is reflected by their students’ enthusiasm as well.

“The teacher training offered by the Amgen Biotech Experience is comprehensive and provides teachers with the knowledge, skills, resources and support to make a real change in their classroom teaching of science.”

Amgen Australia Managing Director My Linh Kha has welcomed the opportunity to partner with the University of Sydney on the program, noting that it addresses all five key areas of the Australian Government’s National STEM School Education Strategy. The ultimate goal of the program, she said, “is to ignite students’ interest in science and career possibilities through hands-on learning techniques in an effort to enhance Australia’s future capabilities in scientific innovation”.

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