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Innovative Experiential Program Creates Exciting Opportunities for School Districts and Sponsors Statewide

Chicago, January 28, 2021 —  The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), dedicated to inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education, today announced the launch of iBIO STEM Kit, a new program designed to fill an important educational gap created by distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s launch coincides with the distribution of the first activity kits to hundreds of high-need, low-income students in Des Plaines School District 62.

Beginning today and continuing monthly through June, a total of 1,980 kits will enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning experiences for 330 students in grades three through eight. The monthly kits provide everything needed for each learning activity, as well as information about real-world applications and career opportunities to which students can aspire. Today’s “Welcome Kit” contains materials and basic equipment that will be used across many of the activities. Each monthly activity kit will include:

  • activity procedures written in English and Spanish,
  • required materials and supplies,
  • spotlights on local STEM heroes highlighting women and people of color,
  • a link to a video providing step-by-step guidance, and
  • membership in a private Facebook group where students can access additional career connections and interviews with interesting people working in STEM fields.

“The recent modifications to schooling due to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the opportunities students had to explore and investigate in the same ways they had in the past,” said School District 62 Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, Dr. Laura Sangroula. “We have admired how our students have adjusted to the changes in their lives at home and in school during our transition as we found new and innovative ways to support our students remotely and in-person, in particular in the area of STEM.”

“We developed this new initiative by building on the research-based curricular assets of our two principal programs, Stellar Girls and STEMgirls Summer Camps, as well as last year’s STEMfamily Virtual Summer Camp,” said iBIO Senior Vice President Ann Vogel. “After reaching more than four thousand students through these programs, we have applied best practices to create fun, safe and age-appropriate STEM Kit activities. We will continue to iterate the STEM Kit program with an eye toward continuous improvement on behalf of the state’s students, their families, future employers and society at large.”

Twelve-year-old Francesca Billotto of Gurnee, Ill. a participant in the STEMfamily Virtual Camp, said, ““It was a fun and enjoyable experience, allowing me to expand my view of the world of STEM.  One of my favorite activities was building a simple circuit that allowed me to be creative with my design for a flashlight.”

Abbott steps up as first sponsor

The global healthcare company Abbott, which has a presence in Des Plaines with its leading molecular diagnostics business focused on the analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins at the molecular level, provided $50,000 in funding to develop and deliver the STEM kits for the Des Plaines school district students.

“We were fortunate to partner with Abbott, which led to us receiving STEM kits from iBIO that will provide many of our students with materials and resources to enrich STEM concepts and practices at home, beyond the school day,” added Dr. Sangroula. “We are excited for our students and are grateful for the opportunity to partner with iBIO and Abbott for the betterment of the students of District 62.”

Open invitation to sponsors, school districts and families

iBIO is already working with additional corporate sponsors and invites corporations, foundations and other sources of philanthropic funding to support the expansion of the iBIO STEM Kit program to students throughout the state. iBIO also invites Illinois school districts to request participation in the program by contacting Operations Manager Monique Naleway at mnaleway@ibio.org.

In addition, anyone interested in purchasing individual STEM kits or sponsoring kits for others  should click here for more information. Fees for private family subscriptions will cover production and shipping costs and will help reduce program costs for families in financial need.

About iBIO

The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) is a life sciences industry association that represents the nearly 88,000 life sciences employees at member companies, universities, service providers and venture firms. iBIO promotes the industry’s value to the public and policymakers; connects innovators to investment and talent; stimulates collaboration and fosters the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to transform patient lives through groundbreaking research and works to grow the Illinois economy.

iBIO delivers industry-led STEM programs for teachers and students, thereby inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education. To learn more about iBIO and its programs, visit www.ibio.org.

Media Contact
Monique Naleway
Operations Manager
iBIO
(312) 561-3895
mnaleway@ibio.org

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