A Bright Future for U.S. “STEM’s from Students” Love of Chemistry

June 9, 2011 - New York, NY

From Chemical Week, June 9, 2011

by Katie Hunt, Director, Innovation Sourcing, and Sustainable Technologies of the Dow Chemical Company

It’s no secret that a fundamental understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is essential to sustaining a global economy. We’ve been alerted by President Obama that America’s 15-year-olds rank 21st in science and 25th in math compared to their peers around the world; but it doesn’t have to be this way. With more than 90 percent of all manufactured products in the world touched by the power of chemistry, our industry is, and must continue to be, a positive force for change in the world.

Today, the pressing challenge for us to address is how to inspire and engage the next generation in the excitement of, and better yet, the pursuit of chemistry. I firmly believe that together we can take this challenge head-on and turn the tide. In fact, it’s already happening in my backyard—right here in the Delaware Valley. In honor of 2011 being the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), Dow has been engaged in a series of events designed to identify and enroll the next generation of scientists—starting locally but sharing globally.

In an effort to stimulate creativity and friendly competition, Dow and the Chemical Heritage Foundation invited thousands of teachers and students to participate in It’s Elemental, a nationwide video contest. The prize for 11 lucky schools was a $5,000 grant to enable their science department’s dream program. We announced this contest in the beginning of the school year (Fall 2010) with a call for videos (5 minutes maximum) depicting one of the elements of the periodic table—due date: January 2011. Nearly 700 individuals and teams entered the contest from 36 states across the U.S. The level of creativity poured into these videos was, and continues to be, truly inspirational. . . .

Link to CW (Subscription required)

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