Biogen Idec Foundation program to introduce students to the science of genetics

The Biogen Idec Foundaton has announced a $250,000 grant to East End House to develop, implement, and evaluate an interactive out-of-school-time genetics program for middle school students in Cambridge.

The program, known as GenoExplorers, will initially reach about 150 students and it will offer them hands-on experiments, collaboration with local scientists, and field trips, all designed to introduce young people to the science of genetics, the Biogen Idec Foundation said.

The program is scheduled to launch this fall. The plan is to provide four hours per week of teaching for 35 weeks during the school year, and nine hours per week for four weeks during the summer. The goal is to expand the initiative to additional centers in the coming years and to create a national program, the foundation said.

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Although currently based in Weston, Biogen Idec Inc. has deep roots in Cambridge and much of its operations are located there. In fact, the company is now planning a return of its corporate headquarters to Cambridge.

The Biogen Idec Foundation has worked with East End House for more than a decade, including on so-called STEM programs. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.)

East End House is a community center that looks to promote the well-being, academic achievement, and successful transition to adulthood of children and young people “from under-resourced families in Cambridge and surrounding communities.”

In a statement, Biogen Idec Foundation chairman Tony Kingsley said, “The GenoExplorers program will help engage youth through extensive hands-on learning and experimentation, encourage long-term educational curiosity and advancement, and ultimately inspire our next generation of STEM leaders to pursue their passions and succeed.”