Baxter Center for Science Education Expands to Northern Illinois

Baxter Center for Science Education Expands to Northern Illinois

Teachers explore cell growth curves during the Baxter SymposiumTeachers explore cell growth curves during the recent Baxter Symposium

Middle and high school educators are bringing cutting-edge life science training to northern Illinois classrooms as part of an expansion of the Baxter Center for Science Education (BCSE).

The BCSE is the result of a nearly 10-year partnership between Northwestern University’s Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP), the Baxter International Foundation, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and now, Round Lake High School. The program aims to integrate hands-on, inquiry-based science education to encourage students to pursue science and engineering careers.

“We're working to shift science education toward learning by doing; our teacher training model is evidence-based and was designed to meet the needs of our schools,” said Northwestern University’s Emily Hood Ferrin, BCSE program director, and resident scientist. “We know students respond positively and are more richly engaged in learning when they are actively using science practices such as argumentation and modeling.”

The opening of Baxter Center North allows the program to reach additional teachers and students in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, in addition to the program’s support of Chicago Public Schools. The program, which has infused more than $3 million of educational resources into Chicago classrooms, is based on a unique model to provide in-depth, real-world training for teachers, who can then provide advanced science lessons to their students. To date, nearly 1,500 teachers have been trained and more than 130,000 Chicago students have benefitted from the resources.

In addition to hands-on training and workshops, teachers have access to lab equipment through the Baxter Box equipment-loaner program. Since its inception, the program has saved schools nearly $1 million in lab supplies and costs and is available to any teacher who has been trained in a BCSE workshop. Nearly 1,100 Baxter Boxes have been distributed, supporting the BCSE’s overarching goal to give teachers the opportunity to learn by doing science rather than learn through science ideas.

“We are excited to expand this successful program to communities in northern Illinois, home to Baxter’s global headquarters and thousands of our colleagues and their families,” said Veronica Arroyave, executive director of the Baxter International Foundation.

“Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation are proud of our partnership with Northwestern University, Lindblom Math and Science Academy and now Round Lake High School as we work together to help schools embrace the powerful role science education can play in developing our next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Baxter Center North debuts

The first northern Illinois symposium was held on Oct. 9, with lessons from experienced teachers and scientists from Northwestern University, Baxter and the Chicago Zoological Society.

In a session led by Marjorie Baker from the Chicago Zoological Society and the Brookfield Zoo, attendees used engineering design to search for solutions to ocean bycatch, which happens when fish and other species are accidentally caught in fishing gear and then discarded. Another workshop featured activities on how CRISPR gene editing works and dove into ethical questions surrounding the technique.

ROund Lake TeachersTeachers like Thaddaeus Dvorak from Collins Academy in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood attended the symposium to see how others are bringing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their content. “I want to expose myself to as many puzzling phenomena as possible,” Dvorak said. “I like seeing high-level science being done in the classroom and then thinking about how I can modify and bring it into my own.”

The symposium also included professional development credit and a breakout session about how to build community partnerships, led by Jen Wells of Round Lake Area Schools District, Northwestern University’s Amy Pratt, assistant dean for community education partnerships at the School of Education and Social Policy, and Craig Spencer, technical development program manager at Baxter.

Read more about the breakout sessions at this year’s symposium.

BCSE began in 2009 as a collaborative partnership between Baxter and Lindblom Math & Science Academy (LMSA), a Chicago Public School on the city’s South Side. In 2012, Northwestern University’s OCEP joined this initiative. The evidence-based teacher training models were developed by Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and partners at Chicago Public Schools. To learn more, visit the BSCE website

About Northwestern University’s Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP)

OCEP works to bridge the research, practice, and service missions of the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) and Northwestern to create initiatives and partnerships that positively impact our home communities of Evanston and Chicago and can be shared and scaled far beyond. OCEP partners with faculty, students, colleges, departments, and centers from across the university. OCEP also supports Neighborhood and Community Relations at the University.

About the Baxter International Foundation

Every day, our employees strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who depend on our products and in the communities where we live and work. The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International, helps advance the company’s mission to save and sustain lives. We partner with organizations around the world to increase access to health care for the underserved, to develop the next generation of innovators who will lead the way in advancing healthcare and to create a long-lasting impact in Baxter’s communities. We are proud to support initiatives and organizations that make a positive, lasting impact in these critical areas. More information can be found on the Baxter website.

About Baxter

Every day, millions of patients and caregivers rely on Baxter’s leading portfolio of critical care, nutrition, renal, hospital, and surgical products. For more than 85 years, we’ve been operating at the critical intersection where innovations that save and sustain lives meet the healthcare providers that make it happen. With products, technologies, and therapies available in more than 100 countries, Baxter’s employees worldwide are now building upon the company’s rich heritage of medical breakthroughs to advance the next generation of transformative healthcare innovations. To learn more, visit and follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook.

About Lindblom Math & Science Academy

Lindblom Math & Science Academy is one of nine selective enrollment high schools in the Chicago Public Schools system, District 299. Located in West Englewood on Chicago’s South Side, Lindblom draws the best students from all areas of the city. Their student body is approximately 97 percent minority and approximately 80 percent low-income. Lindblom offers a demanding college preparatory curriculum where all core courses are honors and Advanced Placement. Through a dynamic curriculum, incorporating unique math and science opportunities, their mission is to empower students to become independent thinkers in a collaborative learning environment. They will nurture each student’s contributions to local and global communities by promoting personal responsibility, service, and intellectual and social growth.

About Round Lake High School

Round Lake is a public four-year high school serving the community of Round Lake, a northern suburb of Chicago. The student body is approximately 84 percent minority and 61 percent low-income with a total population of around 2,100 students. Round Lake stands out as a leader within the Chicago-land area for its innovative approaches to instruction, such as the school-wide implementation of competency-based learning, integration of independent and collaborative workspaces, and flexible scheduling allowing upper-level students to also enroll in college-level courses.

By Northwestern News
Last Modified: 10/26/18