SAN DIEGO, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The BIOCOM Institute and the San Diego Unified School District on Friday will launch a campaign designed to boost the number of life sciences industry professionals volunteering in the district's middle school science classrooms. Launched to support National Lab Day at Millennial Tech Middle, the Science ACES (Advancing Classroom Education in Science) program is one of the first industry-wide movements of its kind.
Developed by the BIOCOM Institute, the campaign will leverage lessons tied to California State education standards from its Science Education Speakers Bureau program, which started in 2008. The lessons are taught by industry representatives who are members of BIOCOM, as well as retired and displaced life science professionals.
"While there are efforts by individual companies to bring science into the classroom, this program is unique because the entire life sciences industry is getting behind the effort," said BIOCOM CEO Joe Panetta. "We have to start at the grassroots level by showing students that science is fun, fascinating and, yes, lucrative."
Each module in the Science ACES curriculum can be taught by a volunteer industry representative. Professionals are encouraged to not only teach the lesson but show how the lessons are applied in the real world. Part of the lesson allows professionals to discuss science career options with students. "The goal is to make science come alive for students," said Kristie Grover, Director of the BIOCOM Institute.
"Middle school is a critical time for students. If we don't maintain their interest in science during this crucial learning stage, it becomes much harder in high school," said Bill Kowba, Interim Superintendent of San Diego Unified. "This is why we are excited to be partnered with the BIOCOM Institute in this ground breaking industry-wide initiative, " Kowba said. San Diego Unified is the second largest school district in California and eighth largest in the United States with over 130,000 students.
More than 50 volunteers from the local life sciences industry have already signed up to participate in the program, through the BIOCOM Institute, a non-profit, education-focused subsidiary of BIOCOM, the trade organization representing Southern California's life science industry. "This is a critical initiative," said David Webb, Vice President, Research & Site Director, San Diego at Celgene. "We need more students earning degrees in science-related subjects to fill our future workforce needs. We fully support the Science ACES program and will mobilize the company's workforce to support it," Webb said.
The Nation's Report Card shows the vital need for the Sciences ACES program, and increased emphasis on STEM subjects in California's schools: San Diego students' performance in the sciences ranked 48th nationwide, in both fourth grade and eight grade testing. In the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the U.S. stands 17th out of 29 nations in math and science. "Today, the U.S. drives innovation in most science disciplines but other countries are producing the workforce to close that gap," said Grover, of the BIOCOM Institute.
Bringing together STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) professionals to make science exciting for students through Science ACES also supports the Obama Administration's initiative for National Lab Day.
"National Lab Day is more than just a day. It's a nationwide initiative to build local communities of support that will foster ongoing collaborations among volunteers, students and educators," said National Lab Day Chairman, Jack Hidary. "America needs more programs like Science ACES to help maintain global competitiveness and keep jobs."
Initially the Science ACES program is available to all San Diego Unified middle schools. It was launched at Millennial Tech Middle School, because it is a STEM magnet school. "We have a diversified student body but a large part of our students come from the local community," said Helen Griffith, Millennial Tech Principal. "Our students perform at a high level and the Science ACES program is just what we need to further motivate the students about careers in the sciences by showing them how science is applied in the real world. This integration will help better them for college success and careers within the STEM field."
While the Science ACES program is being launched at Millennial Tech, it will ultimately be available to all middle schools in San Diego County. As the ranks of volunteer professionals increase and funding grows, the BIOCOM Institute expects to serve all K-12 San Diego County schools in the future.
BIOCOM represents more than 550 member companies in Southern California. The association focuses on initiatives that position the region's life science industry competitively on the world stage, and on the development and delivery of innovative products that improve health and quality of life. This includes initiatives in capital formation, public policy, workforce development, and member services. For more information please visit http://www.biocom.org.
About the BIOCOM Institute
With its support of scientific education and the continuous promotion of Southern California's world-class colleges and universities, the BIOCOM Institute encourages systemic change through collaboration and outreach. The mission of the BIOCOM Institute is to offer and advance education programs that increase science literacy and training. For more information please visit http://www.biocominstitute.org.
About Millennial Tech Middle School
About San Diego Unified School District