Community Lab Cambridge
Community Lab Cambridge is a 1,100-square-foot dedicated laboratory classroom located at Biogen Idec headquarters. Opened in August of 2002, over 3,000 students have visited and engaged in hands-on lab activities, heard about cutting-edge research, or learned about the goings on of a biotech company. Activities have been developed in close collaboration with both the Cambridge and Somerville public school systems.
Community Lab Cambridge offers the following:
A variety of hands-on lab experiences are offered to complement teachers’ current curriculum and engage students in grades 6-12. For example, students can amplify and examine their own DNA, determine if a mock patent can take a particular medicine based on their genetic profile, or transform bacteria to produce green fluorescent protein. Cambridge 8th graders conduct hemoglobin gel electrophoresis to diagnose a mock patient with sickle-cell anemia.
The Community Lab offers several intensive multi-day programs. In a one-week program (Adventures in Biotechnology), students learn about key biotech techniques and concepts through hands-on lab work, such as engineering DNA to code for green fluorescent protein. An advanced two-week session allows students to delve even deeper into the science and cutting-edge techniques of biotechnology. Students might create a chimeric antibody or work with pluripotent cells to become either cardiac or neuronal cells. An integral part of both programs is the opportunity for students to meet scientists and other biotech professionals over lunch, or hear about their research. Both programs culminate in a poster session for family, friends and employees of Biogen Idec.
Science Fair Project Mentoring
The Community Lab runs a science fair mentoring program for select area high school students. Students are matched with Biogen Idec employees as mentors for their biotech-related science projects. Many students in this program have done well in competition and several have been selected to participate in the International Science Fair.