West Oak Lane: Dow Chemical Brings Science to Local Schools

A student waited to ask a question during one of the experiments.


A student waited to ask a question during one of the experiments.

As Philadelphia schools face a budget deficit of $26 million this year, The Dow Chemical Co. is giving some schools the opportunity to expand their math and science programs this spring.

Scientists and research managers from Dow announced this week to a classroom full of students and faculty at the John L. Kinsey Elementary School, located at 6501 Limekiln Pike in West Oak Lane, that they would be receiving an $850.50 check to fund interactive science activities in the classroom.

Kinsey Elementary is among 14 other Philadelphia schools to receive these grants. The program, which is run by the Philadelphia Math and Science Coalition of the Philadelphia Education Fund, aims to increase students involvement in science and math.

Research from the Math and Science Coalition shows that if students do not become involved with math and science during elementary school, they may never become interested at all. Barbara Del Duke, the public affairs manager for Dow, explained her company’s reasoning behind the grant.

“Dow’s committed to furthering education and during that, providing support to teachers. We have a host of 100 scientists that through the course of the entire year visit many classrooms across the region,” Del Duke said.

Each of the 15 schools received a grant for a different purpose. George Washington High School students received a grant to study the texture of soil as they grow radishes, the Overbrook High School robotics team will design two underwater robots, and the John L. Kinsey School will use the grant to explore the effects of ultraviolet rays on the skin and eyes. Mary Cullen, the seventh grade math and science teacher who received the grant for her school, commented on the purpose and importance of this grant.

“The title of the grant was ‘UV Radiation: Friend or Foe?’ Everybody needs to be struck by the sun so our bodies can make vitamin D, but too much UV radiation is bad for our skin and it’s bad for our eyes,” Cullen said. “I want them to learn that they need sunlight, and I also want them to understand that they should take care of their skin.”

Students at Kinsey Elementary will also be studying the effects of sunscreens and sunglasses.

Mary Cullen held her check from the Dow Chemical Company.

The Dow Chemical Company, which specializes in science and technology, tackles many other challenging problems, including the need for clean water, generating renewable energy and agricultural products.

Carl J. Coker, the Dow leader for Global Environmental Remediation, said, “We make products that go into things like agricultural chemicals to grow corn, to kill weeds; we make chemicals that will go into the consumer industry, shampoos and plastic bottles; we do things like solar panels and acrylics that go into paint.”

The company prides itself on promoting interest in students grades K-8. Cullen explained the benefits of getting students interested at a young age.

Students listened to the Dow scientists' presentation.

“The earlier the better. The most important thing is to teach them the process of any kind of an exploration,” Cullen said. “Teach them to ask a question, do research about that question, do some experiments and make observations, and draw conclusions from what they’ve done or seen.”

Dow will have a booth at The Philadelphia Science Festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway on April 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about Dow Chemical Company, visit www.dow.com. For more information about the John L. Kinsey School, contact them at 215-276-5266.

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