Partnering with companies to reorient STEM education and build a pipeline of STEM talent

Publication date
Two young women speak in front of a wall with a projection on it that says "Jornada de Formacion STEM" and includes DOW and Ensena por Argentina logos
Dow and Enseñá por Argentina hosted a day of learning for STEM teachers

Many of the world’s most pressing challenges—from poverty to the climate crisis, to global health threats, to inequitable access to resources like water and sanitation—require solutions grounded in the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  As the role of science and technology in shaping our world becomes more significant, it’s clear that a highly capable STEM workforce is key. Providing today’s students with high-quality STEM education is one of the most important actions we can take to ensure the rising generation will have meaningful opportunities to develop as leaders who will shape a better future. 

More than 40% of teachers in the Teach For All network teach STEM subjects—a figure that is steadily increasing over time. These teachers are leading classrooms in under-resourced schools all over the world, inspiring and activating students’ interest in STEM subjects and helping them to develop the mindsets, knowledge, and skills needed for future careers that will shape the STEM industries.

But studying STEM in the classroom is not enough. Around the globe, we are witnessing a growing movement to enhance STEM education by engaging students and teachers in activities that draw an explicit connection between what they’re learning in classrooms and how they can apply principles grounded in STEM to solve problems in the real world. To do this, teachers in our network are embracing a multi-stakeholder approach that harnesses the power of educators, employers, communities, and students to co-create learning opportunities that expand students’ access to STEM while also preparing them to make meaningful contributions in a world transformed by technology. 

A key pillar of our Future of Work Initiative is coordinating global partnerships among network partners and key stakeholders to connect students to opportunities to learn about industries and future careers, and expand their access to STEM. Our partnership with Dow, for example, makes it possible for students to actively explore the world of work, learn specific skills to make important decisions about their future, and receive career guidance, coaching, and mentoring. In recent weeks, Teach For All and Dow collaborated on a STEM Career Exploration Event, which brought together network teachers and students with experts from Dow’s local offices in Argentina, Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Dow employees engaged in workshops, classroom visits, and events dedicated to career readiness and STEM exploration, in a truly global experience that underlined our shared commitment to empower communities to progress through a concerted focus on youth and education.

In Spain, a dynamic collaboration between Dow and Empieza por Educar culminated in a visit to l'Institut Campclar, a high school in Tarragona, on the northeastern coast. Dow employees Ignasi Canagueral and Guadalupe de Latorre sat down with the director and a teacher from the school as well as the program coordinator and three fellows from Empieza por Educar for a conversation that gave them valuable insights into the motivations propelling these educators towards STEM and the challenges they face in their work with students. Their visit allowed them to have a firsthand view of Empieza’s fellows in action, collaboratively engaging with students—an experience that clearly illustrated the program’s impact on both educators and students alike.  

Three Asian men and one Asian woman sit at a table with their laptops while looking at a children's science magazine
Dow volunteers mentor Teach For Japan fellows who teach STEM subjects


In Japan, where there is a severe shortage of teachers with expertise and experience in STEM fields, the partnership with Dow has been instrumental in allowing Teach For Japan to attract university STEM majors to teach STEM particularly in disadvantaged schools, as well as sparking the interest of general education majors and training them to teach STEM subjects. In November, volunteers from Dow observed the fellows as they taught a STEM class, then provided mentoring on how to elevate the STEM learning experience for students. Together, the fellows and Dow volunteers explored different possibilities for incorporating scientific theories and industry knowledge into designing hands-on lessons that will give students helpful grounding in real-world issues and problem-solving. 

In Bahía Blanca, a city in the southwest of Buenos Aires province, Enseñá por Argentina invited its participants as well as other teachers from various curriculum areas to participate in dynamic training sessions to incorporate new tools and methods that promote project-based learning—an instructional approach with a foundation in STEM pedagogy that’s designed to allow students to learn by actively engaging in practical and personally meaningful projects. The Dow Center hosted ten teachers for a day of learning, which included basic principles of STEM pedagogy, lesson-planning within the framework of project-based learning, and different methods to help them design and execute projects in the classroom. In addition, Enseñá por Argentina organized “Enseñá por un día” (“Teach for a day”), a corporate volunteering program through which they invite employees from partner companies like Dow to participate in a class. In October, Dow employees visited Ingeniero White Technical School No. 1, a technical secondary school in Bahía Blanca, where they talked with students about their current roles in the company, shared their personal and professional experiences, and offered advice to help inspire students who have an interest in their field of expertise. 

Dow’s local office in Nigeria  similarly visited a secondary school in Lagos, in collaboration with Teach For Nigeria. Dow employees with expertise in STEM disciplines shared their wealth of knowledge, experiences, and insights during the session, with the goal of providing guidance and inspiration as the fellows, and especially the students, thought about ways they could apply the STEM concepts they’re learning in the classroom to solve real-world problems. The volunteers from Dow also talked about potential career paths in STEM and how the students can develop the skills they need to be competitive in STEM industries. 

With a deeper understanding of the challenges that students from underserved backgrounds experience and the kinds of practices that can help motivate them to excel, corporate employees are better equipped to ensure that collaborations over the next years of the partnership are firmly grounded in the students’ lived reality. In the long term, these connections are also an important step towards ensuring that our corporate partners are prepared to receive and support the rising workforce who will shape the growth and success of their companies in the future. 

Overall, the STEM Career Exploration Event created meaningful experiences that enriched students’ learning and gave them access to ideas and information about the world of work to ignite their excitement for STEM careers. Through events like these, the Teach For All network and our industry partners are building a pipeline of STEM leaders who will tackle the enormous and complex challenges we face as a global community.