On September 29, 2016, Amgen hosted 19 middle school girls from the Bay Area. Women In Bio members Karla Lindquist and Leah Makley, along with members of the Amgen Women’s Interactive Network, organized the event. The girls learned through first-hand accounts from Amgen volunteers that making medicines to fight disease can be rewarding and fun, and that it requires collaboration between scientists with diverse skills and backgrounds.
The event started with a brief introduction by an Amgen volunteer. She explained that Biotechnology is about “learning how cells and other living organisms work so they can be used to improve the human condition.” She also explained the importance of Amgen’s mission: to make medicines that fight disease. This was a very motivational and interactive introduction where the girls were encouraged to ask and answer questions. The main take-home messages for the girls were to be curious, study hard, be persistent, and exchange ideas freely.
After the opening introduction, other Amgen volunteers introduced themselves, briefly describing what they do and what their favorite subject was in middle school. After their introductions, three volunteers sat on a panel for an in-depth Q&A session. During this session, the girls asked many questions that reflected their interest in learning more about what the Amgen scientists do on a day-to-day basis.
Following the Q&A session, Amgen provided a pizza dinner during which the girls mingled with each other and the volunteers.
Following the dinner and a short break, the girls’ Amgen visit concluded with an activity session during which the girls broke into teams to create “spaghetti towers” - a hands-on activity emphasizing team problem solving: Each team of three or four girls received 18 dry spaghetti strands, one cloth string, some masking tape, and one marshmallow.
The teams were then challenged to use these materials to make the tallest freestanding structure possible, with the marshmallow on top. This exercise encouraged creative and strategic thinking, advance planning, and teamwork.
The girls loved this activity, and it served to reinforce what they learned earlier from Amgen scientists during the introduction and Q&A sessions.
The girls’ Amgen visit ended with a wrap-up session during which each team explained what worked and did not work for their spaghetti tower project. Overall, this event was instructional and engaging for all!
Click here for more photos