In order to foster a better understanding of worldwide industries and broaden the horizons of students in matters that relate to their fields of interest and studies, Dow Chemical arranged a visit for the Maadi STEM School for Girls on April 3rd. Dow is working to build an innovative and competitive workforce, and create a knowledgeable society that values science and technology through its support for STEM education and careers. As an attempt in innovation, Dow is supporting the Education Consortium for the Advancement of Stem in Egypt (ECASE) project with STEM schools to make a difference for students, educators and academic institutions.

The ECASE project is working with a four-year plan funded by USAID for 25 million USD in partnership with World Learning, the Franklin Institute (TFI), and 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education (21PSTEM). The ECASE project collaborates with government entities and engineering schools that engage children in real-world problem solving through project-based learning (PBL) steeped in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

In two years ECASE has succeeded in establishing two STEM schools in Egypt. The Maadi STEM School for Girls has 120 students in 10th and 11th grade. The October STEM School for Boys has 140 students in 10th and 11th grade each. Starting a new school is not an easy task and entails creating academic curriculum, forming school cultures, writing policies and procedures, teaching professional development, offering teacher and administrator training, and recruiting faculty and students. Over the four-year contract, ECASE has plans for the completion of up to 5 STEM schools in key regions throughout the country, while at the same time increasing the capacity of the Ministry of Education to scale up the model in the future.

Dow chemical is one of the main supporters of the ECASE project in Egypt.  Dow started work with the STEM schools over a year ago. They provided several opportunities for students to enhance their understanding of technology and innovation. During the student’s third visit to the DOW chemical factory in 10th of Ramadan City, STEM 10th and 11th grade girls were informed about DOW’s latest inventions, the products most recognized by DOW worldwide and the manufacturing process that goes into producing such products.

Students expressed their interests in Dow’s ability to combine the power of science and technological applications to enhance innovation. Beginning with a presentation, employees from Dow Chemical informed students about “Thermoset”, one of their chemical applications in the industry. Afterwards, the presenter encouraged the students to develop their computer skills to be able to deal with the recent updates in technology. “Today’s presentation was very informative for me and I really want to work hard in my school now in order to be able to work for such a big and great factory like Dow,” said one of students after the presentation.

Dow is embracing all opportunities to utilize their role in industry to develop STEM education, and they directly tied STEM educational initiatives to an industry growth strategy. “We recognize that advances in innovation and technology investments are needed to drive the economic growth. These advancements are critical to our nation’s prosperity and security in the global marketplace.” said company’s presenter.

Through the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, they have made significant funding and support commitments across the spectrum of continuous learning. They are also supporting these efforts by generating interest in STEM education among students, providing development opportunities to science teachers, and preparing candidates for advanced manufacturing jobs.

USAID-Egypt and ECASE see STEM education as a foundational tool for global economic development and increased collaboration and cooperation among and between all nations. USAID Egypt published that the burgeoning global STEM education community is already working in informal global networks and the ECASE initiative will ensure that the children of Egypt are an integral part of the worldwide STEM movement.

By Effat Mostafa