STEM Ambassadors Work With Educators to Improve Teaching Methods

Educators develop new ways to engage their students with hands-on activities during the first teacher summit put on by the American Association of Chemistry Teachers.

A new era of community engagement began in July when Dow STEM Ambassadors pooled their knowledge with educators at the first teacher summit put on by the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT).

Dow joined forces with the American Chemical Society last year to launch AACT, dedicated to providing resources that foster top-notch chemistry instruction grounded in everyday life. Dow and AACT are working together to convene a series of teacher summits and create more than 750 lesson plans, multimedia resources, demonstrations and other high-quality chemistry teaching materials for use in K–12 classrooms. Dow is supporting the AACT financially, and through the involvement of STEM Ambassadors, an organization of employees who develop and present STEM activities that enlighten and engage people in a wide variety of venues.

The first AACT teacher summit began July 20 in Midland, Michigan, with team building, a Dow site tour, safety presentations and teacher resource creation. The next day, the group headed to East Lansing, Michigan, for four days in and around Michigan State University. Participants took part in research, discussion, competition and presentations, all geared toward expanding understanding of effective chemistry teaching.

“By bringing together STEM Ambassadors, with their knowledge of Dow’s research and application expertise, and educators, with their experience in the classroom, we were able to reach understandings that none of us could have on our own,” said Jaime Curtis-Fisk, a Dow research scientist and leader of the STEM Ambassadors. “The big winners in all this are the students who will enjoy a more enlightened exposure to chemistry than was possible before.”

STEM Ambassador groups have formed at a number of Dow sites. Ambassadors receive special training to help them connect with the public effectively. They develop self-contained kits so members don’t have to cobble together materials or figure out the best way to conduct a demonstration. Activities have been designed in consultation with educators and experts from organizations including the Smithsonian so that everything is curriculum-based and educationally sound.