As a chemical company, we are going to need outstanding scientists in the future. Consequently, WACKER is working to generate enthusiasm for technology and the natural sciences among children, a goal we are pursuing in a variety of ways.

WACKER supports progressive teaching methods and modern school management systems. Our Group is one of the founding members of the Bavarian Educational Pact, a foundation in which 143 companies have joined Bavaria in sponsoring various projects at state schools. The aim of all of these projects is to modernize the Bavarian educational system.

Since developing its first experiment kit for schools in 1992, WACKER has worked with educators and chemists to continuously improve the experiments and accompanying brochures. The kits, which are available to schools at no cost, contain all of the basics required for running chemical experiments on materials such as silicone fluids, antifoam agents, moldmaking compounds and cyclodextrins. We completely revised the kit contents during the period under review. The new version – called CHEM2DO – came out in September 2012. With the new kit, experiments on silicones and cyclodextrins can be integrated into the school curricula. The experiments, which can be performed in small groups, help invigorate chemistry lessons and stimulate young people’s enthusiasm for science. There is also a new training course for teachers to acquaint them with the CHEM2DO experiments. Since fall 2012, the course has been available across Germany at the Society of German Chemists’ (German-language link only) teacher-training centers and selected universities. (German-language link only)

WACKER supports Science-Lab (German language link only), a private-sector educational initiative that awakens children’s interest in science at an early age. At our German sites, we finance one-day Science-Lab seminars for elementary-school and kindergarten teachers, and also donate research kits, thereby facilitating an age-appropriate approach to topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and the earth sciences. In Burghausen and nearby Altötting, WACKER financed Science-Lab experiment fairs for children during the summer vacation.

In order to show students the relationship between raw materials and a finished product, the Museum of Natural History in Vienna has developed a raw materials kit. The display case entitled “What’s Inside a Cell Phone?” contains samples of minerals, rocks and industrial raw materials. It allows students to establish a definite link between geology and everyday objects. WACKER supported this educational project with specialist knowledge and donated silicon wafers and polysilicon.

Since 1998, WACKER has supported Germany’s Young Scientists (German-language link only) einbauen)) competition, which promotes young people’s interest in science. Every two years (including 2012), we organize and sponsor the state round of the competition for Bavaria (German-language link only). WACKER has also supported Dresden’s regional Young Scientists competition since 2007, first as partner and, since 2009, as an official corporate sponsor.

Young Scientists Competition: Magic Formula Fights Bad Breath

Jugend forscht: Zauberformel gegen Mundgeruch (Foto)

Mouthwashes containing cyclodextrins are ideal for combating bad breath. Two high-school students, Gabriel Salg and Nicolas Scheidig, succeeded in proving this – and won the Bavarian 2011 Young Scientists competition. They got the idea for their research project, a solution to bad breath, after WACKER provided their school with cyclodextrins for chemistry lessons.

The 16-year-old students thought about possible applications for the ring-shaped sugar molecules and quickly figured out that cyclodextrins can absorb unpleasant odors. “They serve as a form of chemical trap,” explains Gabriel Salg. “The cyclodextrin draws in the odor molecules and then encapsulates them.” Among other things, the young researchers found out that cyclodextrin C42H70O35 is capable of taking up and binding hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl sulfide and methyl mercaptan – three main causes of unpleasant odors.

At Germany’s national Young Scientists competition, the two students from Hösbach (near Aschaffenburg, northern Bavaria) won the German Chancellor’s special award for the most original work.

All WACKER sites help young people prepare for a profession. At career days and student workshops, our employees introduce high-school students to jobs in the chemical industry and teach them practical skills. The following are a few examples from the period under review:

  • Since 2012, outstanding students from two US regional high schools (Walker Valley and Bradley Central) have been able to register for courses held by the recently established WACKER INSTITUTE in Chattanooga. The institute aims to get students interested in chemical-technical jobs relating to polysilicon production at WACKER’s Charleston site in Tennessee. A further goal is to support these students throughout their training.
  • WACKER has founded a scholarship program at the Liangfeng Senior High School in Zhangjiagang in the Chinese province of Jiangsu. Every year, the scholarship funds 25 students and six teachers who distinguish themselves through outstanding academic achievements. In particular, the scholarship provides financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Additionally, WACKER experts share their know-how at the high school by giving specialized classroom instruction on industrial silicone applications.
  • Girls’ Day: as in previous years, WACKER’s Burghausen-based vocational training center (BBiW) took part in this nationwide career information day in the period under review. Girls attending the event learned about careers as industrial mechanics, skilled chemical workers and electrical maintenance and automation technicians.
  • In 2011 and 2012, WACKER, along with other chemical companies, took part in the FORSCHA tradeshow for young scientists in Munich. Children and adolescents learned how to faithfully reproduce objects with silicone moldmaking compounds.

Bedside Touchscreen

Touchscreen am Krankenbett (Foto)

A donation from WACKER has made it possible for the young patients at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital in Munich to receive their lessons on a touchscreen computer. WACKER Executive Board member Auguste Willems presented a check for €10,000 to the children’s clinic in January 2012. Thanks to this donation, the clinic was able to acquire large touchscreen computers with internet access and video conference technology – as replacements for conventional teaching blackboards.

Children who are ill for lengthy periods of time easily fall behind at school. To prevent this from happening, the Munich School for Patients’ staff teach children at the hospital in groups, or provide individual instruction at the bedside. Around 1,300 children are supported in this way every year. The touchscreen computers at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital are easy to use and the children really enjoy them. Thanks to the internet access, the students can easily keep up with the material being taught in all the different subjects and types of schools. The equipment also allows instruction via video conference, which students can link up to either from the various hospitals or from home.