Global manufacturing company Emerson Electric is partnering up with popular YouTube star Hank Green in an initiative called I Love STEM, which aims to encourage more young people to choose STEM-related careers.
The I Love STEM campaign, which is estimated to be driven by between $15 million and $20 million, was launched last year by DDB Chicago.
Hank Green is the brother of bestselling author John Green. In 2007, they started a YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers, which became a global hit. One of their most popular series, called Sci Show, educates viewers about science and makes Hank, a self-professed “science nerd,” the perfect partner for Emerson’s project.
Emerson has donated more than $10 million towards STEM promotion and also started a program to give graduates with engineering degrees different positions around the world over the course of two years.
The company has also built the “Helix” center, a $35 million R&D facility aimed at creating innovative technology in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industries. The building has simulated real-world environments like a working commercial kitchen, a two-story house, and a grocery store. The company plans to open another similar center at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Kate Maddox of Advertising Age quoted Emerson Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Button Bell, who said:
[STEM] is where the money is, it’s where the future is, and it’s one of the most interesting careers, with robotics and other new technologies. By nature, people tend to like science when they start out, so why do people quit? By shedding light on this, we can start to help solve the problem.
Green, who is already an outspoken proponent of science education, seems to be enthusiastically on board with the project. In an interview with Aliza Weinberger of Mashable, he argues that the complexities of the scientific process are often ignored in classrooms, leaving students out of an important aspect of the subjects and encouraging them to believe that they aren’t suited to participate in STEM. In particular, Hank criticizes the use of multiple choice tests to “simplify” the sciences. He said:
“You remove all of the subjective stuff, because it’s a lot easier to be objective with multiple choice. So then you lose the reality that this is part of a process. It frustrates me that you take a science class and there’s never any moment when the answer isn’t definitely known.”
Hank hopes that his videos and projects help teachers as well as students.
“Part of the reason why what I do is so rewarding is that teachers like to use it to help teach their students.
It helps [teachers] free up some of their time so they can do more of what [the videos] can’t do, like one-on-one work or more interesting interactive work.”
Green also spoke about the lack of hands-on experience that students are getting. He believes that as technology gets progressively more advanced, it becomes more challenging for hobbyists to take electronics apart and learn how they work, possibly preventing them from feeling like they have a place in STEM.
Many, including those within Obama administration, have acknowledged the dearth of qualified STEM professionals as a serious problem. According to a press release, Emerson’s research says that 42% of adults would have considered studying in the STEM fields if they had understood STEM careers better. One-third would have pursued a STEM career if it didn’t seem “too hard.” Women were found to report avoiding STEM careers because they were afraid of scholastic failure.