The Story of BABEC

    Throughout our history, we’ve worked toward a single purpose: ensuring that all students have the opportunity to experience hands-on biotechnology lessons in high school. The spark that happens when a student extracts and visualizes their own DNA for the first time opens infinite possibilities to fill a lifetime. No student should be denied this chance.

    Having well-trained science teachers serves a critical community need

    • We need better informed educators and students who can embrace the scientifically-minded worldview that is required to tackle disastrous public health crises.
    • In the post-COVID 19 world, our society struggles with embracing scientific solutions to public health problems. Biotechnology education and skills are exactly what our society needs to develop, manufacture, administer, and promote the diagnostic testing, vaccines, and appropriate safe behavior that is critical for our nation’s health in the long term.
    • Other looming crises such as climage change, environmental degradation, and food insecurity can be successfully tackled when the next generation understands how the tools of bioscience can help ensure our future.

    We leverage the power of shared resources

    Sadly, most schools simply do not have the resources to offer this type of technical training. And many teachers are not given the support, resources and networking opportunities to adequately educate students in biotech and prepare the next generation of scientists. BABEC addresses this problem by helping teachers develop and thrive as successful biotechnology educators.

    How We Started

    The San Francisco Bay Area is the Birthplace of Biotechnology and is one of the largest hubs of biotechnology industry in the world. In the 1990s, high school science teachers were concerned that this emerging field was out-pacing their ability to gain the skills, knowledge and materials to adequately educate their students. BABEC was founded in 1996 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization devoted to the idea of shared resources to address the need for expertise, classroom support, laboratory supplies, curricula and networking opportunities for science teachers.

    Early partners

    • The image to the left shows the original BABEC logo from 1996 surrounded by the logos of the five Bay Area regional partnerships.
    • These partnerships were grassroots coalitions of teachers who pioneered the concept of portable biotech lab kits with a supportive community of teacher allies to help with training and classroom logistics.
    • In 2015 all partnerships officially merged into a single organization offering standardized and consistent support across regions, while still maintaining local responsiveness.

      Biotech Industry Support

      • Our first industry partnership was in 1997 with local biotech company Applied Biosystems (ABI) to write curriculum and channel industry resources into schools. The support continues to this day.
      • Dr. Frank Stephenson (left) and Maria C. Abilock (middle), employees at ABI, authored some of the first high school biotech curriculum ever developed. Read about their work with BABEC: High school students to follow their double-helix dreams.
      • Pat Seawell (right), one of several early founders of BABEC, shown receiving a donation check from the company.
      • See our Sponsors Page to learn more about how we continue to partner with the biotech industry.

      BABEC Today

      In the two and a half decades since our founding, BABEC has provided thousands of teachers with the training and in-classroom curricula that has enabled them to provide bioscience instruction to hundreds of thousands of high school students. We have had 25+ years to fine-tune our lab activities so that they create positive experiences for youth of all backgrounds. And we have developed deep community relationships and a strong network to disseminate our work. Read more about Our Impact.

      The first generation of founders passed the torch to the BABEC 2.0 Team in 2015. The second generation of BABEC leadership is committed to maintaining our deep roots in the Bay Area, while expanding our proven approach to new regions across California and the Nation. In addition to new partnerships with industry and government, we employ a team of experienced educators and scientists to write curriculum and prepare teachers to deliver hands-on biotechnology lessons to a diverse array of students. Our lessons are accessible to all levels of learners and our teacher support model has been developed specifically to increase equity and access in science education. Learn about our updated and improved NGSS-aligned curricula.