Bayer CropScience Excites California Youth about Careers in STEM
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A team of Bayer CropScience employees from the Biologics team in Davis, California have been busy bringing an awareness of science, technology, engineering and math-related fields of study, commonly known as STEM, as well a greater understanding of agriculture to young students across Northern California.
Volunteers are members of the Davis community’s Making Science Make Sense effort, building upon the company-wide initiative which advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education. More than 1,000 volunteers from Bayer sites across the United States work to foster science literacy and ignite student interest in science through Making Science Make Sense and its educational resources for students of all ages, as well as teachers and parents.
The Davis Making Science Make Sense team participated in the Expanding Your Horizons Conference on the campus of California State University, Sacramento on October 12, 2013. Inspiring girls to recognize their potential and pursue opportunities in STEM-related fields across the nation and the world, this Expanding Your Horizons conference was just one of many held in 31 states and in Europe and Asia.
The one-day science and math conference drew more than 300 6th-8th grade girls from around the capital region, inspiring and empowering them to pursue careers and education in areas which females have traditionally been underrepresented. Bayer CropScience volunteers were on-hand to represent and discuss their roles covering a wide range of R&D functions represented in the Biologics unit, including: Microbiology, Plant Pathology, Entomology, Fermentation and Chemistry.
Thirty-two compelling, hands-on workshops were led by university faculty and students from six regional universities and colleges, along with representatives of the Discovery Museum & Space Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Workshop topics included: Separating the chemical components in M&Ms, constructing miniature electronic-circuit heart monitors, making and testing biofuel, extracting strawberry DNA samples, basic principles of propulsion and rocket design, and nursing. Additional learning experiences included exhibits, career demonstrations, a molecular biology lab tour, discussion and interaction with industry leaders, college professors and college students.
Later in the week, the Davis area Making Science Make Sense crew traveled to South San Francisco on October 17th to participate in an exciting educational endeavor, Careers in Agriculture: Growing Your Future.
Providing a look into agriculture and science-based careers in the most densely settled city in California may seem like an odd choice, but what better way to educate urban youth about the industry that provides their food, fiber, and flowers than to bring real life examples to students who may have never themselves seen a farm or field.
Hundreds of San Francisco-area middle school and high school students were bustling with energy as they interacted with professionals and discovered new careers inside the event venue, The Cow Palace, a historic livestock pavilion in the heart of South San Francisco. Here, Bayer volunteers had a unique opportunity to educate students about how their role at Bayer CropScience contributes to providing food for a growing world population using science. Feedback from teachers and students alike was outstanding and they have already asked the team to participate again next year. Read or view more about the Careers in Agriculture event at The Cow Palace in this article (segment) from KGO-TV.
To round out the team’s outreach efforts, volunteers from the Davis CropScience team joined Bayer HealthCare Colleagues from Berkeley, Milpitas, and San Francisco for Discovery Day at AT&T Park. Discovery Day is a part of the Bay Area Science Festival, an eight-day festival that invites children and families to visit 150 interactive science exhibits, lectures, workshops, demonstrations, and shows across the region and to explore the role of science, engineering and technology locally and around the world. The Festival was expected to draw 50,000 active participants, many of whom traditionally do not have access to quality scientific resources.
The oceanfront stadium is normally home to The San Francisco Giants, but for Discovery Day the ballpark was transformed into an engaging arena for scientific discovery and exploration. Alongside many other science-based companies with roots in the Bay Area, Bayer volunteers provided a multi-stage, hands-on scientific experiment station allowing young visitors to create their own colorful slime!
Volunteers helped children of all ages into lab coats, safety glasses and gloves. They were then guided through a simple polymer lesson, allowing the “future scientists” to combine borax and polyvinyl alcohol in a sealed plastic bag to make slime. The students also used auto-pipettors and graduated cylinders to measure the proper quantities. Finally, the experiment concluded with kids adding their choice of food coloring to their slime to make it a colorful take-home reminder of science.
This family-friendly event aims to help young people recognize that science is fun, exciting and important, and to allow parents to feel more confident about supporting their kids’ interests in science.
As a science and research-based company, Bayer has a strong stake in helping to improve the way today’s students learn science, mathematics, technology and engineering in schools from kindergarten through college. Opportunities to explore these critical areas at a young age, such as recent events in California will encourage the next generation to pursue STEM-related fields of study and ultimately careers, when they enter the workforce as adults.
Have questions about STEM education and careers? Leave a comment below or ask @BayerMSMS on Twitter!