Science with a crown: Miss America shares STEM passion at 3M
Jun 10, 2021

Camille Schrier, the first Miss America to showcase science as her competition talent, brought her enthusiasm for STEM education to the Twin Cities of Minnesota Thursday, May 27, as she met with local students, teachers and 3Mers.

A biochemist and Doctor of Pharmacy student at Virginia Commonwealth University, Camille demonstrated the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to take the 2020 Miss America title.

"I was thrilled to see 3M's support and celebration of women and minorities in STEM fields, and was excited to learn from women in leadership and technical fields, with an opportunity to candidly discuss stereotypes that still exist," Camille said of the visit. "I was also really grateful for the occasion to connect virtually with so many students and educators in Minnesota through the TWIST program and to become an honorary 'wizard' while performing a demonstration with the Visiting Wizards outreach program. 3M is certainly a global leader in not only innovation but in the advancement of women and minorities in STEM careers."

Her day started at 3M with a Q&A session with local teachers and students who participate in the 3M Teachers Working in Science and Technology (TWIST) program. The program gives educators across five states the opportunity to work at a 3M laboratory or manufacturing plant site for a six-week stint and bring their learnings back to their school districts. Discussion topics included how Camille won Miss America with science as her talent, staying mentally sharp during summer vacation and finding the optimal STEM career path.

Kendra Herder, a math teacher from Central Middle School in White Bear Lake, said what resonated with her most was Camille's comments about having a passion for a STEM career. "Math and science don't require perfection. Working hard and having a passion for the content is enough," she said.

The safety goggles and lab coat went on for Camille's next stop. She and Jeff Payne, advanced research specialist in the Corporate Research Analytical Laboratory and a long-time Visiting Wizard, were going to be using liquid nitrogen during a virtual demonstration with students.

Schrier made sure to note that her crown was non-flammable and laboratory safe before starting.

The duo's cheerful presentation brought to life concepts like the changing states between solids, liquids and gases, the relationship between pressure and temperature and the differences between nitrogen and water. The grand finale was using the liquid nitrogen to freeze a banana, then swinging it like a hammer to punch a nail into a wood block.

"Now you know that if you're stuck on a desert island with a bunch of bananas and liquid nitrogen, you could make yourself a hut!" Payne joked. "Knowledge is power."

A request came in from the middle-school audience in the online chat: "More experiments!"

Next up for the day was an internal panel discussion on being a woman in science, presented by the Technical Women's Leadership Forum. Mary Caruso Dailey, WLF-T chair and advanced product development Specialist in IATD, moderated the discussion. Panel speakers included Jayshree Seth, corporate scientist and chief science advocate, Kim Tsujimoto, VP and technical director of the Home Care Division, and Jana Ninkovic, technical supervisor in the Corporate Research Materials Laboratory. When asked to describe themselves in one word, these women scientists said multi-tasker, unconventional, tenacious and untraditional. Schrier also spoke about her platform Mind Your Meds, a drug safety and abuse prevention effort to raise mindfulness of medication safety from over the counter medications to opioids.

Camille's afternoon culminated with a trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota, where she met with a local Girl Scouts troop and youth with the museum’s Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead program. The children received Scotch™ Brand STEAM kits, donated by 3M.

Camille's visit supported 3M's recently announced education goal to create five million unique STEM and skilled trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.

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