Futurelab+ aims to increase the number and diversity of students receiving a quality high school biotechnology education by offering a free, equity-centered curriculum designed by and for teachers. The industry- and standards-aligned curriculum provides educators with classroom resources and professional development and embeds biotechnology professionals in classrooms to help students better understand the real-world applications of what they’re learning and gain exposure to the variety of career options available within the industry.
Just 35% of U.S. high schools offer biotechnology as part of their curricula, and most of the schools that do are located in higher-income districts.1 This limits the potential for students – especially those from low-income schools and communities historically underrepresented in STEM – to gain the exposure, skills and experiences that can eventually lead to well-paid careers in science and medicine. In addition, high school science classes often focus on lab-based activities and rarely cover the full product development life cycle, which prevents students from imagining the full breadth of biotechnology careers they might pursue.
To address these challenges, we’ve invested an additional $10 million to create Futurelab+, an initiative to scale the impact of our successful South San Francisco-based Futurelab science education partnership. Futurelab+ aims to reach two million more high schoolers across the Bay Area, California and beyond by 2026 with innovative resources and tools, including:
See how educators are using the Futurelab+ curriculum and associated resources to facilitate important biotechnology lessons in the classroom.
The American Institutes for Research (AIR), in collaboration with BABEC and Ignited, is coordinating third-party curriculum evaluation and support for teachers participating in the Professional Learning Community to provide feedback that reflects the needs and experiences of science educators.
BABEC (Bay Area Bioscience Education Community) is ensuring that Futurelab+ meets teachers and classrooms where they are – with the support and equipment needed to implement hands-on labs regardless of resources.
California Academy of Sciences served as the founding professional development provider and program lead for the Professional Learning Community and Summer Institute. Their experienced staff of educators ensured that the professional learning experience offered through Futurelab+ made teachers feel supported and connected to other professionals and added valuable skills and knowledge gains in biotechnology.
Discovery Education’s wide network of educators and experience with innovative curriculum design and cultural sensitivity reviews are helping to maximize the effectiveness of Futurelab+ in reaching students from all backgrounds.
Ignited is connecting select educators to employers to ensure their curricula is grounded in current industry practices. They also manage continuous improvement and program iteration for Futurelab+.
Jobs for the Future (JFF) is supporting scaling strategies and ensuring employee engagement programming honors educators’ and young people’s lived experiences – enabling them to draw connections between identity, skills, interests and future career options. Read more about Futurelab+ on JFF’s website.
1 Asking the Wrong Questions About American Science Education: Insights from a Longitudinal Study of High School Biotechnology Lab Instruction. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.29.470152v1.full.