Bringing STEM to the Classes
By Gary Hyde, Business Unit Leader/ Packaging Operations
I have two different roles at the Clorox manufacturing plant in Forest Park, Georgia.
One, my “day job,” is working on a team to ensure our plant delivers what our retail customers need in a timely, cost-effective manner.
The other, which I’m equally passionate about, is leading our plant’s efforts to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) education in Metro Atlanta.
Between our volunteers in Forest Park and others based in Alpharetta and Kennesaw, Georgia, Clorox employees have brought the wonders of science and STEM to over 100,000 Atlanta-area youth since May 2013.
Making STEM accessible and fun
We reach young people with our pro-STEM message in many different ways. I’ve volunteered in classrooms, attended career fairs and hosted tours of our manufacturing process in Forest Park.
When I go to schools, I use Clorox products for STEM demonstrations, like building a lava lamp with a Pine-Sol® bottle or adding water to Fresh Step® cat litter to show mass and density. Kids see that science is cool.
When we host plant tours, I show how STEM subjects are used in manufacturing. We start by asking kids to design how they believe a production line runs. After touring the actual production line, we field student questions. Often, coworkers join a panel to show kids the breadth of roles in a plant.
A STEM-filled Fall
We’ve already had a busy fall in the Atlanta area.
On October 13, I led a career fair and spent the morning talking about Clorox and manufacturing with approximately 1,000 middle school kids. Other groups in attendance were so impressed with our STEM-positive message, we agreed to host two plant tours later this year.
In late October, our Clorox team will attend the Girl Scouts’ Super STEM Expo, which is focused on inspiring young females. Over 3,000 girl scouts are expected to attend.
Clorox volunteers also participate in the annual Atlanta Science Festival. We visit classrooms, assist with events and have an amazing Clorox booth at the Exploration Expo each year.
In 2017, the Forest Park plant plans to invite families to join the manufacturing tour to showcase our support of the Metro Atlanta community.
A labor of love
Forest Park was the last of the three Clorox locations in the Atlanta area to get involved with youth and STEM. But from the time the Clorox Science Education Team approached me about volunteering, plant leadership has been incredibly supportive of our efforts to bring STEM to the local community.
I love sharing a message with kids that it’s important to continue learning no matter your age. And I love sharing with them what Clorox is all about and the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from many years of work.