Inspiring Sustainability Leaders

Science, technology, innovation and an inclusive mindset will play a critical role in helping us transition to a more sustainable planet. That is why Dow is collaborating with WE to help inspire the next generation of problem-solvers to address challenges through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills. By joining our We Are Innovators Challenge, students worldwide have an opportunity to work with their teachers to innovate a sustainable solution in their own community.

The challenge encourages students to innovate and develop solutions around the themes of sustainable innovation, circular economy and nature, food waste, energy and housing, and transportation solutions. For example, participating in the challenge this year, one school project in the United States involved developing an aquaponic gardening system, using wind and solar energy. For another project, students in Mexico created a go-kart for people in their community with physical disabilities to improve accessibility. Students with winning projects receive a financial grant for their school of up to $2,500 and are eligible to join a ME to WE service learning trip.

“We are proud to partner with WE to show students that they don’t have to wait until they become a chemist or an engineer to address global and local challenges. They can innovate to drive change right now,” said Rob Vallentine, president of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation and director of Dow Global Citizenship.

In 2018, a team of students from Rayongwittayakom School in Rayong, Thailand, invented a food waste converter. The winning idea was inspired from food waste at the school, where students noticed a large portion became leftovers for farm pigs. The rest remained unused and could lead to germs and bacteria. Using STEM skills, they developed a fermentation process to turn the waste into biogas – or methane – which then can be used for cooking gas, fuel generators or organic fertilizer. The school was awarded a $1,500 grant to improve on the project and pass on the team’s knowledge to other schools and nearby communities.

Arnon Ronsiri, a Rayongwittayakom School student, was among the students chosen to travel to Ecuador for the service trip. For Ronsiri, an 11th-grader at the time, it was his first time traveling overseas. Participating in the immersive volunteer experience and seeing his invention help his school had great impact.

“It has been my childhood dream to become a scientist. Inventing things and exploring new things are my hobbies,” Ronsiri said. “The WE Are Innovators campaign provided me with critical thinking skills, enabled me to create a project beneficial to our school, and brought our innovative project to life.”

Look for the 2019 winners to be announced in early May.