By Sheryl Estrada
Photo by Shutterstock
Along with creating chemistry, BASF (No. 26 on the 2014 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies List) is working to create future scientists in the U.S.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Education is putting aheavy focus on preparing students for careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially females, Blacks and Latinos, who are traditionally underrepresented in those fields.
BASF has several Science Education Initiatives as the company aims at creating future innovators.
“We find that at least half or more of the participants are female or underrepresented youth,” commented Donna Jakubowski, Manager of Corporate Media Relations at BASF. “Our goal is to make science accessible to all.”
One national program with this goal in mind, Kids’ Lab, raises interest in chemistry for kids ages 6-12 through hands-on experiments.Since 2010, more than 60,000 children across the U.S. have participated the program.
Anthony M. Washington, a Training Coordinator at BASF, played an important role in bringing Kids’ Lab to the company’s Peekskill location three years ago to work with local schools. The program consists primarily of sixth-grade students, and many are children of BASF employees.
According to Washington, a lot of the students from the Peekskill who participate in the program are Black and Latino, representative of the local community.
“There’s a broad range of ethnicities and nationalities represented,” he said.
The program is also gender diverse.
“Girls are about 40 percent of the students who participate,” Washington added.
Many of the students who take part in Kids’ Lab compete in the state challenges of the Chemical Educational Foundations’ You Be The Chemist Challenge,of which BASF is a national sponsor. BASF employee volunteers will also run state challenges in Alabama, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Washington is preparing to host the New York challenge on April 25. A winner from each of the state challenges will be selected to participate in the national competition (a total of 36 middle-school students) in Philadelphia on June 22.
“It’s amazing to see how engaged the students are,” he said.
Additional science initiatives of BASF include a Science Academy, which is a summer program for high school students, Kids X-Press, as well as grants and scholarships.