Interactive Teaching Model Engages Students in STEM

The AstraZeneca Health and Science Innovation Challenge supports community solutions to complex challenges; submission period opens Tuesday, July 5

Not long ago, Emma Waldman was a fifth grader just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, disengaged from her classes in science and math. “[They] were always hard to conceptualize, I never really saw them as practical or important,” says Emma.  She is certainly not alone; 83% of students in the United States are not proficient or not interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by eighth grade.

What makes Emma’s story different is that today, she is a rising sophomore at Boston University studying human physiology and nutrigenomics. She represents one of only 16% of students in the US that will have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field by the year 2020. Emma plans to pursue a career in disease prevention through diet and nutrition and also to advocate for food sustainability.

So, what changed Emma’s course?  Her middle school offered a program called Science from Scientists, a nonprofit organization AstraZeneca is supporting through the AstraZeneca Health and Science Innovation Challenge. The program brings real scientists into fourth through eighth grade classrooms every other week to teach experiential and interactive science lessons. “Science from Scientists showed me that you can learn and have fun at the same time. Science class became an escape from the normal school schedule where we could actually get our hands dirty and learn by our own experimentation, rather than from a textbook,” explains Emma.

The results speak for themselves; schools participating in the Science from Scientists program today experience an average 25% increase in standardized test scores in science and math. The success has earned Science from Scientists the endorsement of the Massachusetts Governor’s office and the program is now expanding to schools in California. And, as Emma exemplifies, the benefits to Science from Scientists go far beyond quizzes and standardized test scores. “The lessons taught me the importance of asking questions…since Science from Scientists I’ve been much more curious and constantly seeking explanations for things I do not understand. The program … gave me a true desire to understand why things happen the way that they do.

Science from Scientists is one of the many original and creative programs that the AstraZeneca Health and Science Innovation Challenge is designed to support. Applications will be accepted from all US-based nonprofits beginning July 5th at 9am ET through July 28th at 5pm ET.  Visit our website to learn more about this program and our commitment to make a meaningful difference for patients and communities.