Going Back to School: Ambassadors for Science
How Dow is working to increase STEM literacy and prepare tomorrow’s workforce to develop the innovative solutions we all need
Recently, Dow employee volunteers in Canada helped high school students test their robots for a FIRST Robotics Competition, and in Thailand, organized hands-on activities for a play day that drew 2,000 preschoolers.
In the United States, employee volunteers held outdoor classrooms along the shores of Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain to help students explore wetland conservation, and in the Netherlands, organized a social media contest that encouraged primary students to build their own chain reactions.
Throughout the world, Dow employees routinely go “back to school” to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about science with students, and to build real-world connections with what is being learned in the classroom. Since 2014, Dow has mobilized employee volunteers, known as STEM Ambassadors, to support teachers and inspire students. In support of Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goal to Engage Employees for Impact, more than 2,200 Dow STEM Ambassadors logged more than 25,000 STEM-related volunteer hours, supporting more than 1,900 teachers and enhanced STEM opportunities for more than 360,000 students in 2016.
“We believe the passion and expertise of our people serve as our strongest tool in contributing to a robust STEM workforce pipeline,” says Rob Vallentine, global citizenship director at Dow and president of The Dow Chemical Foundation. “As a Company, we are committed to helping build the workforce of tomorrow by getting students excited about STEM subjects and supporting our educators. Engaging our employees is a vital part of that strategy.”
A workforce prepared to tackle science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is critical to not only driving Dow’s future growth and innovation but for creating healthier societies, a lower-carbon footprint and cleaner water. However, the gap between the skills available in the current workforce and those needed for many 21st century jobs is a challenge. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates 1.2 million STEM jobs will be unfilled by 2018 as a result of a lack of qualified, trained workers. Coincidentally, STEM jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent, nearly double the rate of jobs in other sectors.
A few examples of Dow’s STEM partnerships include:
You Be The Chemist
Dow’s support of You Be the Chemist, a national chemistry competition that inspires middle school students to get excited about chemistry, touched more than 14,000 students in 2016 in local communities where Dow people live and work.
As a strategic partner of FIRST, Dow has created more than 200 FIRST Robotics student teams in communities near its operations, many of which are mentored by Dow employees. FIRST Robotics competitions help students build many of the skills needed for future manufacturing and engineering roles.
Smithsonian Science Education Center
Since 2007, Dow has partnered with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to bridge the connection between the classroom and the real world through the Dow Smithsonian Teacher Scholars professional development program. Dow has reached approximately 300 teachers through the program, and in 2016 began co-sponsoring with business partner CH2M.
Great Lakes Bay Region (Michigan) STEM Impact Initiative
Through Dow’s support, the Great Lakes Bay Region STEM Impact Initiative launched college and university networks to advance STEM in the mid-Michigan region. In 2016, the region was chosen as one of 27 communities in the U.S. to participate in the first STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, a new effort to find community-based approaches to providing more effective STEM opportunities to young people.