Ideas into Action: Providing Students with STEM Experiences

Students from Chicago-area high schools attend last year’s Chicago Ideas YOU(th) Kick Off event at the Shedd Aquarium. (Photo by Tim Klein/Chicago Ideas Week)

Chicago Ideas Week does much more than spur ideas and collaboration amongst its attendees and members. In one case, it helped spur a big idea that connected kids in the Calumet with new opportunities in the marine sciences. And believe it or not, the conduit that connected them was a steel company.

That company is ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company and a sponsor of the Chicago Ideas Week YOU(th) program since 2014. ArcelorMittal invests in the program as part of its larger STEM education initiative. Since modern steelmaking requires knowledge of cutting edge technology, ArcelorMittal’s ongoing success depends on the education of talented scientists and engineers who will become the next generation of leadership in this globally competitive industry.

“We invest in education within our communities with the knowledge that learning is essential to an individual’s economic success, in developing future leaders and creating stronger communities,” says Marcy Twete, Division Manager, Corporate Responsibility at ArcelorMittal Americas. The company invests in education partners who are implementing STEM curricula and opportunities both within schools and out-of-school environments, and that are enhancing students’ critical skill sets to solve future challenges in building sustainable lifestyles in their communities. 

In 2016, the YOU(th) kick-off event was co-hosted by another longtime ArcelorMittal nonprofit partner, the Shedd Aquarium, and ArcelorMittal staff who attended were excited to see that many of the students were also part of Embarc, yet another ArcelorMittal STEM partner. The Shedd event facilitated an incredible STEM learning experience for the students—staff provided exclusive, behind-the-scenes STEM learning opportunities throughout the aquarium while Chicago Ideas familiarized everyone with that year’s programming.

Seeing the collaboration that took place at the event amongst three of ArcelorMittal’s nonprofit partners—Chicago Ideas, Shedd and Embarc—made ArcelorMittal staff think about other ways in which the company could connect its smaller grant partners, which have fewer resources, with its larger institutional partners, like the Shedd. As a result, in 2017 ArcelorMittal funded seven nonprofit field trips to the Shedd for specialized STEM experiences for youth in the Calumet region.

“The YOU(th) kick-off event inspired ArcelorMittal to collaborate with Shedd in 2017 to provide similar hands-on learning experiences to several of the company’s other STEM nonprofit partners,” Twete says, which allowed for hundreds of additional students to have specialized STEM education experiences. “ArcelorMittal is proud to be part of the Chicago Ideas community of curiosity.”

The 2017 CIW YOU(th) Kick-off event is taking place on October 4, once again, at the Shedd Aquarium. For more information on CIW YOU(th), visit

To learn more about ArcelorMittal’s commitment to the community and STEM education, click here.


Jennifer Boudinot is a freelance writer and entrepreneur focused on the changing workplace, disruptive business practices and cocktails—yes, cocktails. She's also a book editor and a best-selling ghostwriter.

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