La. high school students embrace challenges of chemistry at BASF's two-week advanced level science program

Garret Paxton of Zachary High School, Maggie Britton of East Ascension High School and Zoey O’Connor of Dutchtown High School jump-started their college experience and learned the business of chemistry at the seventh annual BASF Science Academy.

The three students were among 20 high school seniors who earned the opportunity to participate in the program designed to prepare students for a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

The two-week summer science program, developed by BASF Corporation, is held at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in Madison, New Jersey. Working in teams, students use BASF chemistry to formulate their own personal care products and develop a go-to-market plan and strategy. At the end of the program, students present their product to a panel of BASF executives and FDU academic leaders.

“Providing students access to high-quality learning opportunities in STEM is a priority,” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President and General Manager for BASF in Geismar, Louisiana. “This two-week academy continues to play an important role in the students’ enduring appreciation of science and will serve as an inspiration to pursue higher education and a career in STEM.”

Following the curriculum theme, “From Molecules to Marketplace,” students gained invaluable hands-on experience in college chemistry labs, while developing a marketing strategy to link their product to the consumer. Students also experienced chemistry in action by visiting the BASF Research and Development labs in Tarrytown, New York and by meeting with cosmetic chemists and subject matter experts. Through exposure to real world chemistry, students observed how the fundamental building blocks of many everyday products are comprised.

“Science Academy was a great experience where I met people from all over North America and developed teamwork skills,” said Paxton.

According to Maggie Britton from Gonzales, the two-week academy is, “an unmatched experience where chemistry meets business to create an awesome product.”

“Science Academy is an opportunity to meet like-minded people, take challenging classes, and experience college life,” said O’Connor from Prairieville.

Students graduate from the program with three transferable college science credits to encourage their pursuit in a STEM field. In addition, FDU offers Science Academy alumni $5,000 scholarships if they elect to attend FDU in the fall of 2018.

Of the 140 students who have participated in the program to date, several Science Academy alumni have returned to BASF through the summer hire internship program and the Professional Development Program (PDP). Last year, Science Academy class of 2011 alumnus Kevin Chao joined BASF as a full-time PDP employee in Beaumont, Texas. This fall, Michelle West, a 2013 Science Academy graduate will begin a full-time PDP role at the BASF site in Geismar, Louisiana. Other successful alumni are attending universities and pursuing degrees in math, chemistry, engineering, biology, medicine, psychology, education and business, to name a few.

See what the 2017 Science Academy students had to say about the program: https://youtu.be/Zrz4e2UYRjs

Contributed Report