About the BCSE

The Baxter Center for Science Education (BCSE) began as a collaborative partnership with Lindblom Math & Science Academy (LMSA), the Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP) at Northwestern University, and Baxter International Inc. and has since expanded include a new partnership with Round Lake Senior High School. The Baxter Center builds impactful teacher professional development programs and innovative curriculum modules with a focus on hands-on, inquiry-based activities aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). By developing programs based on real-world scientific challenges, the Baxter Center hopes to inspire a lifelong enthusiasm for STEM disciplines that will inform students’ daily lives.

What we do

Our vision is to foster tomorrow’s innovations by developing the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Our mission is to work with partners from the K-12 community, academia, and industry, led by Baxter International Inc., to develop programs that promote equity in science education and student success in STEM careers by bringing authentic and engaging science experiences to all students in diverse learning environments.

To achieve our vision and mission we do three things: teacher professional development, the Baxter Box materials & equipment program, and in-school teacher support.

How we work

Teacher professional development workshops: We provide training for teachers to implement authentic and innovative life science programs in their schools with a focus on hands-on, inquiry-based activities aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Under the guidance of expert teachers and scientists, teachers learn real-world lab skills and practices.

The Baxter Box program: Teachers who are trained in our workshops gain access to our free lab materials and equipment lending library, ensuring that they are able to directly implement what they learn from us in their classrooms.

Teacher support: A great deal of work goes into executing high level science labs in the classroom, and we are there to support teachers throughout the process, from prep work to implementation to cleanup.

Why our direct-to-teacher model works

While programs focused on working directly with students are valuable, our programs are built around a direct-to-teacher model for sustained reach and impact. We focus on changing teachers’ practice and building their capacity for authentic science teaching and learning. This has a farther-reaching impact because by training one teacher, we can then reach all of the students they teach throughout their career.

Our teacher training model is evidence-based. We design our approach based on the experience and expertise of our partners in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and in the School of Education & Social Policy (SESP) at Northwestern University. It is informed by both the needs of the schools and academic research on best practices for affecting lasting change in the classroom.

Teacher comments

I feel like I’m finally learning to be a science teacher! I’ve been to lots of PDs but they’re always just discussing science and not actually doing science. These workshops are revolutionary! You really hit it out of the ballpark.

The Baxter Center facilitators are very enthusiastic about getting biotechnology into classrooms! They are very knowledgeable and happy to work with teachers at any level, whether it is your first time using the equipment, or you have used it with your class and are looking for “tips and tricks” or further explanations.

The support is amazing. I would recommend any of the Baxter Center Symposiums and workshops to both new and experienced teachers who are interested in feeling like a scientist for a day or more, and then sharing that sensation with their students.

Holy moly, this center is GREAT! I appreciate your outreach, enthusiasm, and expertise. It is really amazing to have this kind of access to a research institution and you are all so helpful in making this type of science accessible to our students.

Our reach

Since 2009 we have hosted over 50 workshops and trained 1,200 teachers from 300 schools in CPS and the greater Chicagoland area, reaching over 100,000 students per year.

We have grown our programs by an average of 55% per year. In 2009, we began with one biotechnology workshop for 20 teachers. In 2017 we offered 14 life science workshops for almost 350 teachers from over 100 different schools.

70 teachers from the Northern Illinois suburbs have been trained in our workshops. 65% of our participants are Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers, while 35% are from other communities in Illinois.

Our Value

Teacher training programs with other providers cost schools an average of $500 per teacher. We provide our workshops to teachers free of charge. We spend about $2,500 to run a workshop for 20 teachers. That means that for every workshop we run, we are saving schools $10,000 in training costs. This year we spent $35,000 to run our workshops, but the value of those programs is over $175,000. Since we opened in 2009 we have spent about $125,000 on PDs, but the total value is over $600,000.

Teacher comments

I loved how the Next Generation Science Standards were incorporated. Especially love how these were included: experimental design, crosscutting concepts, data gathering and analysis. And also where students experienced frustration and success, how to scaffold for grade bands, and levels of difficulty and sophistication.

I increased both my knowledge and skill base. Getting a jump-start by having supplies to take back to the classroom helps to avoid budget as a reason not to do a lab is awesome! Also, now I have such a great group of people to work with and count on for support during the school year.

This was truly a privilege and an honor to take part in this experience. This experience was on one hand guided - in terms of the curriculum project and debriefing of the science - and on the other hand learnercentered - such as pursuing our own research questions. This allowed for both challenge and growth - all wonderful. The facilitators were truly kind, dedicated, bright people. This experience was wonderful! Thank you!

Our popular Baxter Box lab equipment lending library is essential to our mission of supporting equitable opportunities for STEM education and careers. Over the past 8 years, the Baxter Center has accumulated over $75,000 in portable lab equipment that teachers can borrow through our online checkout system. The equipment, along with consumable supplies, is provided at no cost to any teacher who has been trained in one of our workshops.

The advantage of our equipment lending library is in the relatively low cost of investment versus the high value of the equipment, not to mention the student experience that goes along with its use. The Baxter Center spends an average of less than $200 on supplies for every Baxter Box. However, the average value of the materials and equipment in a Baxter Box is $6,000.

Our economies-of-scale approach to our equipment lending library allows us to simultaneously maximize the cost effectiveness, efficiency, and reach of our program. So far this school year, we have spent $8,750 on supplies for over 40 Baxter Boxes requested by teachers. The total value of those Baxter Boxes is almost $200,000. In other words, schools would have had to spend $200,000 for their students to experience these lab experiments. Since the NU team began tracking in 2013, we estimate we have saved schools and Baxter $1 million in lab supplies and equipment. Schools would not be able to afford this equipment, supplies, and support without the Baxter Box program.

This school year, we have already doubled the number of teachers requesting the program. From September 2017 through February 2018, we have fulfilled over 40 Baxter Box requests for 90 consumable supply kits and 80 equipment kits. In the last 6 months we have supported our teachers with 85 school visits, and at least 3,300 students have experienced Baxter Box lab activities.

The Baxter Center is staffed with a full-time scientist with a PhD in biochemistry and a full-time partnership coordinator to provide teachers with both expertise and one-on-one support. Between the two staff members, about 30 hours a week are spent on support for individual teachers, including preparing, delivering, and maintaining Baxter Box materials, communicating via text, phone, email, and our online messaging system, and supporting teachers in class.

What sets us apart

We provide comprehensive services to support science education in the classroom. We have learned that to affect real change, you can’t just do teacher PD, you can’t just give away equipment, and you can’t just visit the classroom. To be successful, you have to do all three as a living, responsive, flexible program built on strong relationships with teachers and schools, adjusting to their evolving needs.

Teachers value their relationship with our program, and they come back for additional training and deeper learning. 40% of our teachers attend two or more of our workshops.

We consistently receive top marks from teachers who attend our workshops. In our 2017 surveys (n = 238), we received a 99% satisfaction rating. 98% of our teachers planned to integrate the materials into their classroom, and 99% said that the materials were well-aligned with state and district standards.

Teacher comments

The Baxter Box program has made these lab activities economically feasible. I would never have been able to do these labs without the Baxter Center.”

I taught for many years before discovering the Baxter Center and all it has to offer. As much as I cherish my days off in the summer, I have never regretted spending 2 or 3 summer days at one of their workshops. The activities are always very hands-on, with a chance to learn from helpful people who have worked or are working in research labs. In addition to the presenters, you will get all sorts of ideas and resources from networking with the other participants as well. The free lab materials make it so easy to take what you learn back to your students and let them experience first-hand the joys of learning by doing. The support is amazing. I would recommend any of the Baxter Center Symposiums and workshops to both new and experienced teachers who are interested in feeling like a scientist for a day or more, and then sharing that sensation with their students.

Our Advisory Board

  • Wayne Bevis, Lindblom Math & Science Academy
  • Andrea Cherubini, Baxter International Inc.
  • Mary Clark, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
  • Nina Hike, Curie Metro High School
  • Nell Kemp, Lindblom Math & Science Academy
  • Preston Lewis, Chicago Public Schools, Department of Science
  • Elizabeth Martinez, Illinois Math & Science Academy
  • Tom Martinez, Glenbard East High School
  • Joshua Paschedag, Chicago Public Schools, Department of STEM
  • Kristen Perkins, Northwestern University
  • Mark Prosise, Vernon Hills High School
  • Cheryl Watson, Saucedo Scholastic Academy
  • Melanie Zenisek, Arlington Heights School District

Corporate Partners

The Baxter Center for Science Education also works with a number of companies from both the educational and biotechnology sectors to be able to better help teachers in the Chicago-land area.