Bristol-Myers Squibb Grants Help K-12 Educators Bring Science to Life and Help Students Explore Their Interests in the Sciences and Science-Based Careers

Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:00am EDT

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Grants Help K-12 Educators Bring Science to Life and Help Students Explore Their Interests in the Sciences and Science-Based Careers

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) today announced more than $500,000 in new grants to more than a dozen educational institutions and organizations working to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in K-12 schools and colleges in New Jersey.

As a global biopharmaceutical leader, Bristol-Myers Squibb has for many years supported innovative learning opportunities in the sciences for children who attend schools in the communities where its employees live and work. In central New Jersey, which is home to three of the company’s six global research and development centers, the company focuses on promoting hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities that enable students to explore their interests in the sciences and science-related careers.

This is accomplished in two ways: by helping educators discover new ways to bring science to life and inspire K-12 learners and by providing meaningful opportunities for students to learn – and apply their learning – about topics such as biology, chemistry, genetics, robotics, engineering, alternative energy and environmental science.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Centers for Science Teaching and Learning at Rider University in Lawrenceville and at Montclair State University in Montclair are the company’s signature investments in STEM education in New Jersey. These centers, which each work with more than a dozen school districts and private schools in central and northern New Jersey, respectively, are changing how in-service and pre-service K-12 educators learn to teach science and mathematics. A third Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Teaching and Learning is located at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, near the company’s fourth U.S.-based R&D center in Wallingford, Connecticut.

“To function in our rapidly changing world it is essential that high school graduates leave prepared to enter the workforce or pursue post-secondary education competent in fundamental scientific content as well as scientific reasoning and habits of mind,” says Kathleen M. Browne, Ph.D., outgoing director, of the SELECT program at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Rider University. “Rider SELECT programs have worked with many districts for 12 years to help teachers help students learn most effectively through inquiry instruction and science practices and through connected learning strategies aligned with state standards. Engaging students in the practice of science and in the study of those practices is essential for effective learning. We have been fortunate to do so through generous funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and other foundations.”

In addition to emphasizing the use of the scientific method as a tool for inquiry and exploration, the centers help teachers develop deep content knowledge, understand how scientific concepts at various grade levels fit into a larger context for students as they progress from elementary school to high school, and employ instructional technology to improve learning outcomes.

Recent grants to Rider University have supported the CONNECT-ED teacher professional development program; Rider’s STEM Teacher Academy, where high school students who are interested in becoming teachers of science, mathematics or technology engage in inquiry-based learning activities related to biology and ecology; and Project SEED, an initiative co-sponsored by Rider and the American Chemical Society that provides disadvantaged urban teenagers who have a passion for chemistry an opportunity to work as research assistants for projects in Rider's labs.

Recent grants to Montclair State University have supported the PRISM teacher professional development program and development of a forthcoming curriculum to help New Jersey teachers meet New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Standard 9.1 for 21st Century Life and Career Skills. The company also has supported Montclair State’s PharmFest, a biennial event that brings together leaders and scientists from New Jersey’s biotech and pharmaceutical life sciences industry, college students, educators and community members to exchange information about new trends and developments in this key sector of the state’s economy.

The Rider and Montclair State centers also are working with the New Jersey Department of Education to help schools across the state prepare for the anticipated adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.

"With our most recent grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb, we will be able to advance this work by guiding 15 districts through a gap analysis of their science programs as they prepare for the possible state adoption of the recently released national Next Generation Science Standards,” says Cathlene Leary-Elderkin, incoming director, of the SELECT program at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Rider University. “These standards are designed to help students more effectively build knowledge of disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices coherently through the grades.”

“Bristol-Myers Squibb’s support has made it possible for Montclair State University and partnered schools to improve the teaching of science in New Jersey classrooms by providing professional development in science for teachers when district budgets have not been able to support ongoing and effective professional development,” says Jacalyn Willis, Ph.D., PRISM director at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Montclair State University. “Teachers who participate in our programs have been able to develop and maintain close relationships with Montclair State University’s staff of pedagogy experts, scientists and experienced educators for continuous improvement in classroom effectiveness.” PRISM has expanded its reach by providing videoconferencing opportunities for students to connect with Montclair State and Smithsonian researchers in rainforest locations, which “makes the processes of science come alive beyond what any textbook can accomplish,” Dr. Willis adds.

Other significant STEM grants announced today support these programs in New Jersey:

  • Trenton Public Education Foundation – Expansion of a Robotics Technology program in place at Trenton Central High School to include the Trenton School District’s four elementary schools and four middle schools. The Robotics Technology program encourages students to discover and develop a passion for further study in the STEM areas and allows them to work side-by-side with mentors and professionals in STEM fields.
  • New Brunswick Education Foundation – Expansion of a Robotics Club currently offered at New Brunswick Middle School to become year-round and include the district’s elementary schools and high school. The program will extend into summer and include a mentoring component that will enable former middle school students (now in high school) to coach elementary and middle school grades.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Trenton – Introductory and graduated STEM programs for underserved youths in the Club’s afterschool, summer camp and teen programs, including higher-level learning opportunities for Club members who plan to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. The project aligns with the Club’s strategic plan to increase the number of members that graduate from high school and enter a post-high school career path.
  • Civic League of Greater New Brunswick – Continued funding for an afterschool program supported by prior grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb for elementary students that emphasizes STEM. Students work on projects involving bridge-making, botany, web site development and other science-based themes.
  • Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association – A scholarship program for youths from Trenton to attend a weeklong session at the Watershed’s Environmental Education Day Camp to broaden their understanding of the environment and the need to protect it. The grant also funds an internship for a young adult from Trenton who will work with the students this summer.

Bristol-Myers Squibb also awarded grants to The College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey; Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey; Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey; and Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, to support programs that enable students to gain real-life experience performing scientific research in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and biotechnology in close collaboration with a faculty mentor.

For the past three years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has supported Monmouth University’s Summer Research Program, funding scholarships for about a dozen students for an intensive 12-week student-faculty collaborative research experience. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Scholars’ work has led to conference presentations at regional, national and international conferences, as well as a provisional patent application and peer-reviewed research publication. In addition, recent Monmouth University science graduates supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb have entered M.S. and Ph.D. programs in related fields at top institutions across the country.

“We know that students learn science best in a hands-on setting, and one very effective way to do this is to provide them with research experience as early as possible,” says Michael Palladino, Ph.D., dean, School of Science, and associate professor of biology, Monmouth University. “The Summer Research Program can be held up as an example of how early-stage funding to support student interest in research will stimulate students to pursue their education in the sciences.”

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information, please visit www.bms.com or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmsnews.

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Frederick Egenolf, 609-252-4875
frederick.egenolf@bms.com