On a Saturday afternoon in early February 2021, ten Dow employees in Japan conducted the “Power of Science” program for about 130 students from the Mita International Junior High School. The event, originally scheduled in 2020, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also changed from in-person session with hands-on experiment to virtual format for the very first time.
Dow Japan teamed up with the non-profit organization Jibun Mirai Club in 2017 for the “Power of Science” initiative and has been giving annual educational programs at junior high schools in Tokyo ever since, aiming to develop the next generation in the field of science and to help make students feel optimistic about their careers.
So why did they decide to launch the program? How did it go? We had a chance to chat with two members from this year’s team: Kaoka Yamada san (EH&S Delivery Specialist), first time joining the program, and Hiroki Morita san (Production Engineer), second-time volunteer in the program. Here is what they told us.
Q: What made Dow Japan team decide to launch the “Power of Science” program?
A: In Japan, students start to show less interest in science, and many of young people tend to be less optimistic about “growing up” and “taking corporate jobs” due to negative news about working environment. We want to change the negative perception, and show the students that science helps build a sustainable society and working in science is a lot of fun, too.
Q: How did you become a volunteer of this program?
A: We call for self-nomination each time. Some of us are new, others have volunteered more than once. Our members come from different functions/businesses, and are based in Tokyo and Chiba sites. Eriko Sakurai, Dow Japan and Korea President, joined us to share with the students the roles that science plays in building a sustainable society, and how science careers look like. We also discussed other topics including job satisfaction, leadership, work-life balance and pursuit of dreams or what if you have not found your dreams.
Q: How did you host the program before? What changes did you make this time due to the pandemic?
A: We used to visit the schools to meet the students in person, and organized hands-on science experiments such as Polyurethane forming, sound dampening coating and silicone defoaming agent so that students could actually see how fun science can be.
This year, we moved the program online due to the pandemic, and as you can imagine, it was harder for us to see the reaction from the students. We couldn’t conduct real-life experiments, so we had to share some selfie videos prepared by our TS&D colleague.
That said though, there are some advantages for the virtual format. It was easier for Dow presenters to see the students’ faces no matter where they were seated, same for the students to see us. Instead of physical reactions, we could tell the students’ response from the “like” they gave us and had real-time “conversations” in the chatroom. Last but not the least, being virtual means that Dow volunteers and students could be based anywhere, and all preparation and post-event communications were conducted online with faster turnaround.
Q: How many students have participated in the program since it was launched in 2017? What are their feedbacks after participating in this year’s program?
A: So far, we have reached out to approximately 500 students from two schools in Tokyo. We have received a lot of feedback from the students. This year, students took even extra time prior to the event to learn more about our company and made four short “promotional” videos about our brand, sustainability and product benefits. We are also motivated and inspired by the students’ words, here are some we’d like to share with you:
“I thought scientists just do experiments at a laboratory. I had no idea that science was fun and had so much to do with contributing to society.”
“Corporate world seems even better than schools.”
“A Dow leader told me that we have bigger potential than we ever know. It was so encouraging, and I felt like I need to take more challenges.”
“I was so inspired to hear one of the Dow people say that he chose a career in science because he dreamed of making something very first in the world.”