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Business & Education Spectroscopy, Technology, Professional Development

Supporting Growth: from Seed to STEM

Reaching Out

Susan Olesik, Dow Professor and Chair at The Ohio State University, USA, explains why time and effort spent inspiring young minds is an investment in the secure future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Tell us about your school outreach initiative…

In 1999, I started an outreach program called “Wonders of Our World” in elementary schools. Now in its nineteenth year, the goal of the program is to improve science education in elementary schools. We bring scientists and students from the university into schools to carry out scientific experiments with the kids. So far, we have reached over 10,000 children and 1,000 teachers. We “adopt” schools for a period of three years, and over that time students involved in the program achieve a 30 percent increase in their standardized test scores in science and math. Those scores stay high even after we leave – so we know we’ve had a long-term impact. We have also seen a number of volunteers decide to go into science education as a result of the experience, so it’s had benefits all round.

There is a lot of research indicating that middle school is the point at which women and underrepresented minorities decide against science as a career. So we have added a middle school outreach program and a high school mentoring program.

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About the Authors

Susan Olesik

Dow Professor and Chair at The Ohio State University, USA, explains why time and effort spent inspiring young minds is an investment in the secure future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


Ivo Leito

Professor of Analytical Chemistry, University of Tartu, Estonia.


Dayna Mason

Education Coordinator at the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.

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