Earlier this year, before the pandemic was widespread in the United States, a small team of scientists at our Aston, Pennsylvania, plant reported out on their progress and deliverables against their project plan. While this might sound like any other day at 3M, there was one key difference: some of these scientists weren’t even old enough to drive.
These 12- to 18-year-old scientists were on site thanks to 3M Application Engineer Rob Romeo’s work with the Chief Science Officers. This national STEM education program helps students explore their passion for STEM subjects while learning workplace skills 3Mers use every day, such as collaboration and creative problem solving. Through the program, schools elect their own “Chief Science Officer” (CSO) – a student who campaigns by organizing a STEM project, such as a science-related after-school club or community improvement project.
Last year, the Aston team supported local CSOs in bringing their projects to life. The students worked with plant volunteers to hold “cabinet meetings,” where they shared updates on their projects, problem solved and worked with advisors from 3M and other local employers to demonstrate how they’re staying on track. In addition to meeting at the plant, these student scientists heard firsthand from plant employees – from plant operations to leadership – about how 3Mers apply science to life every day.
While the pandemic continues, 3M is still focused on helping students – and their parents – stay science smart. 3M has launched Science at Home, a virtual laboratory that helps young minds stay sharp. The company also continues active relationships with local organizations that help students prepare for careers in STEM fields, like Pennsylvania STEM Experiences for Equity and Diversity (PA SEED), a group committed to engaging local and global communities in STEM learning.