CONSETT, England—Chemical manufacturing company Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. recently marked its 23-year partnership with the Center for Industry Education Collaboration, by reaffirming its commitment to the organization and to STEM education.
According to company, the partnership grew out of a three-year program that created the Children Challenging Industry endeavor. It began in 1996 and initially was funded by the late Tom Swan, who at the time was the company's managing director. Tom Swan went on to fund a longitudinal study into the impact of the program. That report was published in 2003.
Since then, the chemical company has provided core funding to CCI.
The CIEC, which itself reached 30 years in 2018, provides support to both industry and schools to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Housed in the Chemistry Department at the University of York, it produces publications that help primary teachers translate the National Curriculum for Science into classroom studies and experiments, and demonstrates relevancy of scientific skills to the industry and associated STEM careers.
"Long term skills development for our industry is vital," said Thomas Swan CEO Harry Swan, son of the late Tom Swan. "CIEC is perfectly placed to engage children with STEM and industry, and I'm proud that Thomas Swan has partnered with them for so long. We will continue to support them and would encourage others to do the same."
Harry Swan has served as chair of the CIEC since 2018; It's the same role his father held for many years. Since taking over as chair, Harry Swan has committed to funding the development of a sustainability resource, and pledged to help provide development for teachers.
Since the CCI program began, 11,500 teachers and 600 industry personnel representing 1,600 schools and 145 companies have received training. Additionally, 47,000 children have made 1,000 site visits to companies throughout the United Kingdom.
Children participating in the CCI program say they are more likely to become scientists, with 28 percent expressing interest STEM professions. Meanwhile, 85 percent of children participating say they enjoy science more, and 95 percent say they appreciate the role of women in science and engineering, Thomas Swan said.
Those figures, CIEC Director Joy Parvin said, are most encouraging.
"Partner companies like Thomas Swan are crucial in ensuring that our youngest children are inspired by the science they see in industry, and the relevance it has to their daily lives, their science at school, and potential careers," Parvin said in a statement. "All too often, children think science is great fun, but not 'for people like me.' We turn this impression around, and have a big impact on children's views, thanks to collaboration with our colleagues in industry."