NACD: Industry helps STEM flower

17 May 2013 09:59  [Source: ICB]

John Rice, executive director of the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF) discusses the important role that industry plays in STEM education

Why are STEM initiatives so important?


  Rice: Help to eliminate the negative stigmas

A huge challenge to the industry is educating people, specifically youth, to understand what the chemical industry achieves for them. Where would you be without science? Take an iconic staple of American culture for many kids - Disneyland. Science is behind all of the "magic" that Disney creates on a daily basis in the form of engineering new park rides, creating animated movies - even down to food they serve in concession stands. Do the millions of people that visit the park annually have even the slightest clue that science, specifically technical innovation and physics, is the reason that favorite amusement rides like Splash Mountain exist?

If you're reading this, you most likely work for a chemical company and are well versed in the value that science and the industries that support it provide to mankind on a daily basis. The challenge is making sure that your stakeholders and community members are also aware of these advantages. Ignoring this need for education creates a lack of understanding of the benefits that industry provides to the general public's lives. What people don't understand they tend to fear, and that can result in overzealous regulation that impacts industry as a whole, weakening the economy from top to bottom.

What should be the goals within the industry?

Educating constituents about the vast benefits of science. It is industry's responsibility to take a leading role in the advancement of STEM education initiatives. This direct involvement will help eliminate the negative stigmas placed on the chemical industry and create future generations of well-informed citizens. In any production process, what we put in is central to the end result. For industry as a whole, getting involved in efforts to improve the US education system should not be considered "community outreach" or "philanthropy" but more as activities that are central to your "right to do business" argument.

Many chemical companies are already involved. Industry management programs such as NACD's Responsible Distributione_SRTm, the American Chemistry Council's Responsible Caree_SRTm, and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliate's ChemStewardse_SRTm program, are asking their member companies to make a commitment to improving science education opportunities for our youth by placing greater emphasis on supporting STEM initiatives. Increasing these efforts and the number of engaged companies should be the common goal among all industry.


In late April, State You Be The Chemist Challenges took place nationwide. Each winner earned the title of State Challenge Champion and moves on to compete in the National Challenge in Philadelphia. A full list of industry sponsors and state winners can be found at CEF thanks all of the industry and educator volunteers who help organize and implement the State Challenges!

On May 7, CEF honored Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of The Dow Chemical Company at its Vanguard Dinner & Award Ceremony. Accepting the award on Liveris' behalf was Heinz Haller, chief commercial officer, president of Dow Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and executive vice president of The Dow Chemical Company.

The annual award honors leaders of the chemical industry for their support and implementation of science education activities. Liveris is the driving force that has propelled The Dow Chemical Company to the forefront of STEM education initiatives. In 2011, Dow became a Diamond Sponsor of CEF's You Be The Chemist® programs; a partnership that has enabled CEF to expand its content and broaden its reach, engaging more K-8 students and educators in the sciences than ever before. The dinner and award ceremony preceded NACD's annual Washington Fly-in held from May 8-9 in Washington, DC.

On June 24, CEF will celebrate the accomplishments of 27 students from around the country as they compete for the title of National You Be The Chemist Challenge Champion in Philadelphia, PA. Industry members, educators, and family members will gather at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to cheer on these bright young minds during the competition and at the National Challenge Celebration Dinner that immediately follows the event. Scan the QR code for more details.

By: Andy Brice
+44 20 8652 3214

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