The Amgen Biotech Experience hopes to provide second-level students with hands-on experience in biotech.
A new programme announced by the Amgen Foundation, the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE), aims to give 13,500 secondary school students in Ireland a hands-on biotechnology laboratory experience.
Pharma giant Amgen has partnered with University College Dublin (UCD) and Dublin City University (DCU) to hopefully “empower secondary school science teachers to implement real-world biotechnology labs in their classrooms, helping their students better understand science and how it influences their daily lives”.
The scheme comprises a three-week in-classroom experience that provides teachers with professional development, teaching materials and research-grade equipment for their classrooms. Using these tools, students can be immersed in the concepts and techniques that scientists use to discover and develop medicines.
ABE has been operational in Ireland since 2014 and is delivered in cooperation with Systems Biology Ireland, UCD and the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU. The organisation hopes to reach more than 21,000 students by 2020.
This latest scheme brings the total investment Amgen has made into Irish student schemes to €470,000. In total, the Amgen Foundation has invested more than $125m in STEM education around the globe.
The announcement of this new school scheme was made at the Amgen Biotech Experience Global Conference in Dublin. Speaking at the conference, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, TD, said: “Encouraging more students to pursue an interest in STEM education is a priority for my department.
“Our goal is to make Ireland the best in Europe in the provision of STEM education. For that objective to be reached, we need our students to be equipped with the necessary skills to adapt to a rapidly changing world and transformed employment market.
“That is why initiatives such as the Amgen Biotech Experience play such an important role in the development of Irish STEM education.”
Rayne Waller, VP of regional manufacturing and site head at Amgen Dún Laoghaire, added: “The Amgen Foundation’s partnership with UCD and DCU has been a vital part of the Amgen Biotech Experience’s proven impact in boosting students’ interest and confidence in studying science and biotechnology.
“We are excited to build on this programme’s proven success and bring hands-on science education to even more students, teachers and communities in Ireland.”
An independent review by nonpartisan education research agency WestEd into the ABE programme demonstrates the positive effect the programme has on students: 82pc of students reported that the programme broadened their concept of what happens in science labs, and 53pc said that they had an increased interest in STEM careers.