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Eye On Education: Community Lab Teams Scientists Up With Students

BOSTON (CBS) - It's a unique field trip to one of the world's top bio-tech companies: Biogen Idec. "Biogen has definitely, you know, let me experience what life would be as a scientist," says high school senior Nicole Gouveia. Nicole and her classmates are part of Biogen Idec's Community Lab. A program exposing students to real science and real scientists.

"This is an invaluable resource," says Karen Woods, the chair of the Somerville High Science Department. Every student in Somerville from 6th through 12th grade gets to come to this world-class Cambridge lab to work directly with Biogen Idec scientists. The day we visited the lab, students were comparing proteins in different tissue samples. "In the classroom we can provide certain experiences. But, the equipment here, the resources here, the knowledge base, the expertise of the scientists is something that's just irreplaceable," says Woods.

Every year, 3,000 students from Somerville, Cambridge, and Greater Boston get to work in the lab. Tracy Callahan, the Community Lab Director, says most scientists had a moment when they were inspired to go into the field and now Biogen Idec gets "to provide that experience for the next generation." And Anne Cheung could easily be one of those experts to offer advice and inspiration. Cheung works in the protein Bio-chemistry department at Biogen Idec. When she isn't helping kids in the Community Lab she's working on research to develop an Alzheimer's drug. "Whenever a student comes through and they are influenced by their work in the lab to go into science that's truly rewarding."

And some of the students admit the lab work has persuaded them to pursue a career in science, "It's very rare for a high school student to get that kind of experience. Because of that option I know I would be comfortable doing something like that in the future," says Somerville Senior, Sadia Islam.

The Community Lab is free and it's open to other communities and organizations but spots do fill up fast. For more information CLICK HERE.


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