Meet Amgen Biotech Experience Teacher Huw Williams

Jul 2, 2015 10:00 AM ET

Huw Williams | Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • ABE Participating School: Long Road Sixth Form College
  • Subject and Grade Taught: Applied Science and Biology at Level 3 (A-level and BTEC awards used for University entrance and for vocational work related career routes)
  • Years Teaching: 16
  • Years Participating in ABE: 4
"ABE enables teachers to have their ‘own experience’ including reflections and understandings."

Unique Journey to Teaching & ABE

Huw Williams never intended to become a high school science teacher. Prior to teaching high school, Huw taught game rangers at a technical university in South Africa, training them on how to manage wildlife such as elephants, lions and rhinos. Turns out, it was the perfect training to prepare him for managing classrooms packed full of hormone-charged teenagers! After helping preserve thousands of square miles of South African wilderness, Huw and his family moved back to his home country of England, so he could share his passion for science with students. Currently the head science instructor at Sixth Form College, Huw discovered ABE through an email from the Cambridge Biologists organization. Already planning on introducing a new genetic engineering course at his college, Huw saw ABE as a perfect addition to the curriculum.

ABE Classroom Impact

Why do you participate in the Amgen Biotech Experience? I am keen to provide exciting and inspiring opportunities for students and the Amgen Biotech Experience is just that. To have access to state of the art equipment and to be able to conduct experimental work that we would not otherwise have been able to do is exciting and inspiring.   How has the Amgen Biotech Experience helped to engage your students in new ways? (e.g., hands-on laboratory experience, good curriculum, classroom tools/resources etc.) The Amgen Biotech Experience has significantly enhanced my students’ understanding of laboratory protocols as well as their motor skills in using equipment – injecting samples into the wells on an electrophoresis gel was an eye-opener for many.   What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience? Seeing students succeed and their faces when they come to understand something is priceless. ABE confirms their love of science more than other course work which can be rather exciting.   Can you share an example of a story where you witnessed a student ‘ah ha’ moment and begin to experience more interest in science? A former student of mine used the ABE equipment as part of an extended project program, and as a result, decided he had applied for the wrong course at university! He ended up asking to change to a genetic- based program – which was done on the strength of his work with ABE.   What impact has ABE had on your students, school and community? We use the ABE equipment during our annual Open Evenings when prospective students, their parents and teachers from other institutions are invited to see the college. The feedback has been very positive, and it has certainly attracted students when they see that this opportunity can be available for them.   What kind of support (i.e. professional development) do STEM teachers need to be effective and spark a love for science in their classroom? Teachers are being swamped with bureaucracy. We need to re-engage teachers with science research – perhaps by giving them an opportunity to spend a little time back in a lab working with researchers – something bigger that allows them to talk more from their own experience.   Name the three most valuable things that science teachers would get out of participating in ABE. The Amgen Biotech Experience reignites interest in science for both teachers and students. Through participating in ABE, teachers experience carrying out the practical work. ABE enables teachers to have their ‘own experience’ including reflections and understandings.   -------------   To learn more about the Amgen Biotech Experience, please visit our website and check out the #BiotechExperience hashtag on Twitter. Visit and follow @AmgenFoundation to stay up to date with all STEM-related news from the Amgen Foundation.