Students at the Curiosity Cube using virtual reality to “shrink” to the size of a cell and complete a series of challenges. Courtesy of MilliporeSigma.
With as many as 2.4 million STEM jobs going unfilled in the U.S., a global science and technology company with a facility in Jaffrey is engaging students in hands-on learning to sow the seeds of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. MilliporeSigma is bringing the wonder of science to schools—especially those with fewer resources—through the Curiosity Cube, a 22x10-foot retrofitted shipping container turned mobile science lab.
The Curiosity Cube is equipped with high-tech microscopes, 3-D printers, and virtual and augmented reality technology used to teach students how cell structures differ throughout the body.
Jeffrey Whitford, head of corporate responsibility and branding at MilliporeSigma, says the Curiosity Cube is about making sure students have access to a quality science education, but also about changing the image of scientists.
“What does a scientist look like? Most kids picture an old white guy in a lab coat—Albert Einstein. We know problem solvers come in all shapes and sizes,” he says.
MilliporeSigma, a provider of lab materials, technologies and services, has a near-equitable ratio of men and women in R&D positions, which Whitford says is almost unheard of in the sciences. “For us, diversity is something we continue to focus on, and we model that in the Cube so that hopefully students recognize or see someone who looks like them, is closer to their age, and has something that creates a connection for them,” he says.
The Curiosity Cube hit the road in 2017 and engaged 38,000 students in 85 communities. This year it will tour more than 100 communities in the U.S. and Canada.
The Curiosity Cube visited Jaffrey, where MilliporeSigma has a major facility, for several days in September.
Whitford says the employees who volunteer to staff the Cube all want to come back to do it again. “That speaks to the pride they have not only in the work we do, but in making sure children have the chance to experience this.
They really appreciate the power the Cube has to help them share their passion for science with the next generation,” he says.
For more information, visit thecuriositycube.com.