Survey insights found students were interested in science, but ...

Challenge: encourage students to stay interested in STEM careers paths.

We changed perceptions for more than 2 million people

Creating a Sys-STEM-ic Solution

One of the priorities of the Amgen Foundation is to provide hands-on science experiences to students that will encourage them to think about potential career paths in the field. It’s that focus that drives one of their signature programs: the Amgen Biotech Experience. The program provides high schools with cutting-edge equipment, giving students the ability to conduct biotechnology experiments in the classroom firsthand and develop a love of science.

The question was, were the foundation’s efforts keeping teens interested in the field? The only way to get the answer was to go straight to the source: the students. That’s where their communications team came in.

Getting things down to a science

The next step? Identifying Change the Equation, a like-minded nonprofit focused on improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, as the perfect partner to administer an in-depth survey on the subject.

The team discovered that students loved going on field trips and conducting hands-on lab experiments. But they didn’t enjoy sitting behind their desks for textbook-driven lectures. In fact, 81% of teens said they were interested in science, but only 37% liked their science class “a lot.”

The study also reinforced a familiar phrase, “It’s not about what you know. It’s who you know.” The vast majority (86%) of students felt that knowing someone who already worked in the field would help them achieve their career goals. But only one-third (32%) of students fell into that category.

The great unveiling

It was time to share the STEM survey insights with educators, parents and policymakers to help inform and drive STEM education policy and curriculum. With the help of their communications team, the Amgen Foundation developed a powerful strategy — including some new paid tactics — that broadened awareness, positioned the foundation as a thought leader, and ultimately got people talking.

Just how many people? Between the 20+ articles featured, a strategic social media push and paid social placements, over 2 million people were reached. For you scientists out there, that’s 2 x 106. And both owned and paid content syndication catapulted its website traffic to over three times its typical average. It doesn’t take a molecular biologist to know that’s A+ work.