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Two girls in a school workroom smile at the camera.

Building confidence in the next generation of STEM leaders

How 3M’s STEM education initiatives are preparing students for the future

A girl student working on a machine in a classroom.

“I was interested in sciences, but I had no idea about engineering or building for that matter”

Meet Samantha

3M connected with high school student Samantha to tell her story about her journey in STEM. “It's kind of like solving a puzzle. And so I really appreciated that.” Her school’s robotics team, The Puddle Jumpers, is based in Vancouver, and is the first female gender diverse team in all of British Columbia.

After trying to join a different robotics team in ninth grade, Samantha felt she wasn’t quite ready to dive into STEM. “There’s a lot of things going on. A lot of robotics. You’re not sure of yourself.” And she’s not alone in these feelings.

62% of women/girls

According to 3M’s State of Science Index, 62% of women/girls are more discouraged from pursuing engineering than other science fields, with most students ‘self-eliminating’ themselves from science career paths in middle and high school. But after learning about The Puddle Jumpers robotics team, she knew she had found her place.

Students at a robotics meet.

“When I heard about a female [robotics] team, I was like, Oh, I have to join now.”

The power of mentorship

During their competition season, The Puddle Jumpers were given access to professional mentors that helped boost the team’s confidence and skillsets. Through 3M’s STEM Education initiative, industry professionals work alongside teams like The Puddle Jumpers to share their expertise, and to help foster a passion and appreciation for STEM and its potential to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Through education grants, training programmes, and mentorship opportunities, that focus on improving equal access to STEM programmes, 3M Science is able to help students just like Samantha and her teammates. “When someone is showing something to me and like giving me the responsibility, I've learned so much quicker and so much better than I have in other areas,” Samantha says. “If I'm going to go into the real world, I know that I can teach myself things. I'm a little bit more self-reliant than I would be otherwise.”

Girl student working in a school workroom.

“Being challenged is the only way that you can really push yourself and get comfortable in a new way.”

3M’s commitment

How are we supporting a diverse pipeline of STEM talent? 3M has made a commitment to STEM education that aims to invest in the creation of five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025. By working with schools, universities, and other community organizations worldwide, 3M Science is helping underrepresented populations gain equal access to STEM education. For students like Samantha, this means giving them the confidence they need to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. “Being challenged is the only way that you can really push yourself, and get comfortable in a new way,” Samantha says of her team’s new mindset. “We always enjoy the challenge. No matter what it is, we're ready for it.”