The Amgen Foundation has partnered with Harvard University to launch a free online science education platform for high schoolers and college students, the Thousand Oaks biotechnology company announced Wednesday. The open-source platform, dubbed LabXchange, will offer “digital instruction” modules and virtual laboratory experiences centered on biology, the foundation said in a statement. The foundation awarded Harvard a $3.5 million grant to launch the initiative, the goal of which is to show students – particularly those whose geographic or economic backgrounds offer few opportunities for exposure to careers in science – what it’s like to work in a laboratory. “Advances in technology are not only having an incredible impact on how we develop and deliver (medicines) … but also in how we educate and inspire the next generation of scientists,” Robert Bradway, chief executive at Amgen, said in a statement. LabXchange will also have a social networking component that will connect users with “collaboration and mentorship opportunities,” according to the foundation. Amgen did not return by press time a request to clarify with whom students would be networking. Amgen scientists will consult on the development of the project, which will begin testing prototypes this summer. The platform will launch in 2019, the foundation said. Shares of Amgen (AMGN) rose $2.80, or about 1.6 percent, on Wednesday to close at $180.24 on the Nasdaq.