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BioBusIn an ongoing effort to promote STEM education in Westchester, County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced that the Westchester County Youth Bureau has partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to bring the "BioBus" to hundreds of students countywide – including a visit last Friday to the FoxFire School in Yonkers.

So what is the BioBus, exactly?

A high-tech laboratory on wheels, the BioBus boasts an array of advanced scientific equipment and brings hands-on science education to communities that have limited access to such opportunities.

"Science has the power to awe and inspire kids when it's presented in the right way," Astorino said. "Our partnership with Regeneron and the BioBus will help to spark an interest in science for so many kids. This is not only an end in itself, but it will be increasingly important as the economy continues to shift toward the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math."

In sponsoring the BioBus, Regeneron has teamed up with WCYB executive director Iris Pagan, who has a doctorate in science education from Columbia Teachers College, to move beyond the schools and bring the county's STEM initiatives as deeply into the grassroots community as possible.

The BioBus has visits scheduled at several sites in Yonkers, Hartsdale, Sleepy Hollow, Peekskill, Mount Vernon and other locations throughout Westchester this month.

Headquartered in Tarrytown, Regeneron is one of the nation's leading biopharmaceutical companies that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical illnesses. It remains deeply committed to the local community and has sponsored similar programs locally and across the U.S. to help promote science education, particularly in underserved areas.

"Regeneron is committed to advancing STEM, particularly science education, in order to deepen the pipeline of students prepared to compete and excel as our future workforce," said Peter Dworkin, VP Corporate Communications at Regeneron. "Companies, like Regeneron, that are driven by science have a responsibility and opportunity to address the STEM achievement gap. We collaborate with educational organizations and government to increase the number of students excited, engaged and educated in STEM. Collaborative approaches like this create shared value and generate greater innovation and growth for companies, and also greater benefits for society and our economy."

The BioBus reaches over 18,000 people each year, visiting schools, summer camps, parks, museums, festivals and after-school programs across New York City and the country. Visits give students a chance to explore the microscopic world around them in an inquiry-based, hands-on setting aided by state-of-the-art science equipment and supervised by Ph.D. level scientists.

"Students tell us they find scientists 'cool,' 'fun,' and 'interesting' after they've boarded the BioBus," said Ben Dubin-Thaler, who founded the BioBus in 2007 only weeks after presenting his Ph.D. thesis on cell biophysics at Columbia University. "Here they can get the experiential learning they can't get from a textbook. The BioBus transports them to a new world – filled with complexity and beauty – that was once invisible to them. We've observed a three-fold increase in students highly interested in a science career, based on feedback they provide after visiting the BioBus."

The BioBus is operated by Cell Motion Laboratories, Inc., an educational non-profit organization based in New York, and is run by a dedicated staff and volunteers. To learn more or volunteer, visit www.biobus.org.

"We thank Regeneron for their partnership in helping to move beyond schools to include our local youth programs," Pagan said. "Doing so ensures that as many kids as possible have authentic exposure to hands-on science education. Providing these experiences will improve their chances of having a respectable and gainful place at the table of 21st Century society."