Children are fascinated by the world of science – especially when they are able to test the theory in practice themselves. With its Baylab student laboratories, Bayer offers authentic life-science experiments from the fields of biology, medicine, chemistry and also physics in age-specific projects as a supplement to school lessons. Bayer’s aim is to awaken and foster an interest in science among young people at an early age and to open up opportunities through education. The approach has been hugely successful all over the world.
- The Challenge:
To offer young people access to science and technology in addition to what they receive in school.
The Baylab program for children and young people offers authentic experiments supervised by expert staff. Bayer also supports student laboratories around the world.
Breaking down barriers. Supporting teachers. Sparking and encouraging interest in scientific and technical careers.
Most research careers start small. “The Baylab gave me my first opportunity to experience how biology experiments are conducted in real life,” says Joel Jaegers. In 2009, the now 24-year-old attended the Baylab on the topic of molecular biology in the Pharmaceutical Research Center in Wuppertal. The day in the student laboratory left a lasting impression on him – and even influenced his later career choice.
Baylab lets children and young people discover the latest research methods. It all started in Wuppertal, where the first student laboratory, initiated by Pharmaceutical Research, was launched in 1998 under the motto “Discover Science.” Employees at the Berlin site were very impressed by the idea as well. “Young people of almost all ages have been conducting experiments with us since 2008,” says Martin Rimkus from the Baylab team in Berlin.
The first Bayer student laboratory was launched in 1998 in Wuppertal
In 2009, Baylab opened in Monheim, focusing on plant biotechnology. One of the experiments young researchers can carry out there is extracting oil from rapeseed. And since 2010, visitors have been able to gain insights into research in the Baylab in Baykomm in Leverkusen.
The student laboratories have also been enjoying international success. In late 2011, Baylab Mexico opened its doors – and some visitors have since become regulars. “We have a five-year-old fan who insists on his ‘Science Friday’,” says Jorge Luis Pech Carmona, part of the Baylab team in Mexico City. In 2012, a small science initiative in Warsaw grew into Baylab Poland and now operates as the “Baylab Innovation Center”, where students and employees explain how our cardiovascular system works in a way that children can understand.
Making Science Make Sense
Back to school with Bayer: U.S. science teachers look forward to workshops, and their students to fascinating experiments
Giving one million children a hands-on science experience by 2020 is one enormous goal of Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense® initiative in the United States.
Equipped with materials for real-life experiments, Bayer employees visit schools to bring science to life for children and young people. Bayer volunteers also conduct workshops for teachers, like the one held in June in Kansas City. At the workshop, elementary school science teachers from six school districts received training in four areas: the properties of liquids; bees and insect pollination; DNA extraction from plants; and gastric acid and enteric-coated medicines. “I really enjoyed the experiments, but also enjoyed finding out more about the backgrounds of our instructors from Bayer,” reported one participant. Similar science teacher workshops are conducted in major sites across the U.S.
Science is at the heart of everything Bayer does. New technologies, concepts and increasing global market competition will continue to demand a workforce that is flexible, scientifically literate and equipped with critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration. Bayer believes it has a responsibility to help ensure today’s students have access to quality science education that will properly prepare them for tomorrow’s workplace, regardless of the careers they choose. Making Science Make Sense® advances science literacy across the U.S. through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism, and public awareness led by former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
Formalized in 1995, the spirit of the initiative dates back nearly 50 years when Bayer volunteers began helping teachers teach and students learn science the way scientists do – by doing it. Today, in communities across the U.S, hundreds of Bayer employee volunteers work to foster science literacy and to ignite student interest in science.
Bayer employees in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Japan, India, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom are likewise working hard on their own MSMS programs.
We have a five-year-old fan who insists on his ‘Science Friday´
Baylab Romania opened in Bucharest in 2014, focusing on health and nutrition. Ruxandra Pirojoc, head of Communications in Romania and Bulgaria, took over the project management a year later. “As a mother, I knew that my sons sometimes found school lessons very boring.” She wanted to captivate children using practical experiments instead. In Sofia, Elisaveta Vladova has worked hard to establish Baylab Bulgaria and life science experiments since 2015.
My most vivid memory is the feeling I had the first time I isolated pure DNA – the molecule that forms the basis for all life.
In South Africa, a mobile Baylab has been visiting disadvantaged schools in the Mpumalanga region since June 2016, as part of a collaboration with the Penreach development program. Bayer is also bringing hands-on natural science into the classroom in Argentina as well. Thanks to Science Kits, teachers who have been previously trained in their use can conduct experiments by themselves with their classes.
The most recent addition to the family is the Baylab initiative in Vietnam, which features a children’s book containing simple experiments designed to get younger children acquainted with science. In the United States, Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense® initiative has been introducing kids to the natural sciences for 20 years.
In the Beginning Was Molecular Biology
Baylab student labs have been offering scientific experiments to children and young people since 1998. The person who came up with the Baylab concept was Dr. Birgit Faßbender from Bayer Pharmaceuticals Research. “Back then, I asked myself how we could best involve the next generation in what we are actually doing in research,” explains Fassbender. “Hands-on” was clearly the right approach.
Faßbender’s team started with molecular biology for senior classes. “The participating schools were enthusiastic and asked us straight out whether we could also offer something for younger children. We therefore gradually expanded our program to include every age group and also offered vacation programs,” says the biologist, describing how the program developed. There was never any intention to set up the Baylab as competition to schools. On the contrary. “We supplement everyday schooling with experiments that simply would not be possible there, primarily because they do not have the materials for them.
We are currently working on offers for teachers and above all on making it possible for new target groups to take part in our programs in the interest of equal opportunities in access to education.” For Faßbender personally, the main thing is that children and young people gain an opportunity to gather as much practical experience and as many insights as possible during their visits. “Even if they later go on to other professions, they will be more aware of the scientific background to socially relevant topics and be able to contribute to solutions.”
Baylab visitors around the world have expressed their enthusiasm. The enjoyment of and interest in life sciences never left Joel Jaegers either. Instead of studying electrical engineering, he began training as a biology laboratory technician at Bayer and now really enjoys his work.
Have you been captivated by the natural sciences? Find out more about how Bayer can help you become a research scientist here. A wide range of materials is available for teachers as well.