ExxonMobil gets it

It’s no secret that America’s investment – and proportionally, our superiority – in STEM education is nowhere near where it was when the Cold War sent us to the Moon. The problem these days is convincing people that it is a big enough problem for our elected officials to want to increase that investment, even in hard fiscal times. That’s why this video made me somewhat more optimistic (via NASA Watch).

Now, you may not like big oil companies, perhaps even especially ExxonMobil. That’s an ethical debate for another forum. Whatever you think of them, ExxonMobil is still the second largest corporation in the world (Apple passed them in market capital back in January). A company that big has a lot of weight to throw around; it seems they are throwing that weight in great ways.

I poked around their “Let’s Solve This” website to see if Exxon was just talking the talk but not walking the walk. I was happy to see that they are putting their money where their YouTube is and, among other initiatives, they have a free summer science camp for kids at at least 3 universities (in partnership with The Harris Foundation). They also work with the Sally Ride Science Academy to help improve science curricula and run a science academy for elementary school teachers.

There are a lot of people out there (like Lawrence Krauss, who I may expound on some other day) who think that how we invest in spaceflight is some kind of economical equation, and we should do whatever makes the most money sense. But those people don’t get it, or are forgetting. Human spaceflight is inspiring beyond almost anything else we can do. It is what made America a science powerhouse in the 20th century and it can do it again. By using that historic success in their video, ExxonMobil shows that they get it.

ExxonMobil is basically the largest company in the world and they have no direct ties to spaceflight, or NASA, or most basic science research. They are reaping in billions of dollars in revenue a year just fine. They don’t need to promote science education for the stockholders to see a reward this year, or next year, or even 5-10 years from now. Nevertheless, they are forward thinking enough to realize the long-term implications of a society that does not invest in the education of its populace, and especially in developing STEM expertise. That’s why this makes me optimistic. I applaud Exxon for this initiative and I hope it catches on.

I agree, we can “solve this”.

June 27, 2012 8:50 pm

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