Just 35% of U.S. high schools offer biotech 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 understanding and experiencing the breadth of careers they might pursue across the biotech industry.
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. Building on our more than $35 million investment in South San Francisco schools since 2015, Futurelab+ aims to reach two million more high schoolers across the SF Bay Area, California and beyond by 2026 with innovative resources and tools, including:
Since launching in September 2022, the Futurelab+ biotech curriculum has already helped teachers reach more than 627,000 high school students, including 60% from low-income Title I schools.
See how educators are using the Futurelab+ curriculum and associated resources to facilitate important biotech lessons in the classroom, and flip through the slideshow below for photos and perspectives from teachers who have participated in Futurelab+ professional development programs.
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.