A TikTok Story: Chemical Kim and Dow

A TikTok Story: Chemical Kim and Dow

A TikTok Story: Chemical Kim and Dow


Because the world races to develop and scale options for myriad international sustainability challenges, a variety of views might be key. That is one motive why, in 2015, the United Nations dubbed February 11 the “Worldwide Day of Ladies and Women in Science.” Ladies make up less than 30% of the world’s researchers in the present day. STEM fields should do extra to welcome and encourage women-identifying college students and staff – as a result of lived experiences usually yield probably the most focused options.

Kim Hilton is one key voice working to shut the hole. When she activates her digital camera, she brings the magic of science to viewers world wide – together with girls and women who’re eager about pursuing careers in science. Often called Chemical Kim on her social media channels, the chemistry professor and influencer has greater than 1.4 million TikTok followers and a expertise for unpacking complicated subjects with hands-on schooling – like in this TikTok video on superior recycling.

Jill Martin, Dow’s World Sustainability Fellow, shares Kim’s ardour for the development of women-identifying college students and workers and appreciates her work to broaden sustainability schooling in accessible methods.

“Circularity and sustainable plastics generally is a complicated house. Kim’s content material exhibits how new applied sciences and innovators are addressing plastic waste and creating extra sustainable and round merchandise,” Jill defined.

In celebration of this yr’s eighth annual Worldwide Day of Ladies and Women in Science, Jill not too long ago spoke with Chemical Kim about her ardour for supporting women-identifying, science-interested folks in STEM.

Jill: How did you go from chemist to TikTok influencer?

Kim: My ardour is making science schooling inclusive and accessible for everybody. For greater than 25 years, I’ve shared science demonstrations and actions with children at native colleges, neighborhood teams, libraries, museums and even an area kids’s hospital.

Fifteen years in the past, I developed the “Chemical Kim Science Present” on native public entry tv, which led to a biweekly phase on a morning present. I turned to TikTok in the course of the pandemic to maintain bringing science classes to children and inspiring discovery and investigation in their very own environments.

Jill: What recommendation do you may have in your TikTok viewers, particularly those that determine as girls or women?

Kim: It is necessary to discover a function mannequin. Ladies are a minority in science, and lots of scientists you study at school or on-line will not be girls. Attain out to different girls in science that you just admire and really feel a connection to. Having girls in science is a necessity as various minds and various considering are necessary within the development of analysis and growth.

For my TikTok viewers at giant contemplating careers in science, look to your curiosities. Most individuals in STEM, together with myself, sought science as a profession as a result of we have been curious from a younger age. It is necessary to acknowledge that finding out science will not present solutions to your curious questions – however it would give you the instruments to hunt the solutions.

The opposite essential piece of recommendation is to embrace this ardour to study science. The programs are difficult and require lots of time and arduous work, however the dedication might be price gaining the information and understanding of the world round you together with having a profession you’ll take pleasure in and that you just labored so arduous to attain.

Jill: What has your private expertise been like as a feminine influencer within the STEM house? Any examples?

Kim: I’ve had dad and mom, children and younger adults inform me how a lot I’m a task mannequin. Certainly one of my favourite exchanges concerned a mother and her 10-year-old daughter approaching me at a big amusement park. The daughter was extraordinarily excited to fulfill me and shared that she watches all my movies and loves performing my science actions.

Just a few weeks later, I obtained an e-mail from this identical mother, sharing an image of her daughter dressed up as Marie Curie for Halloween. The mother defined that after discovering Chemical Kim, her daughter has turn into obsessive about studying science.

I additionally obtain feedback and messages from younger girls in highschool or school sharing that they’re going into science as a result of I’ve proven how enjoyable studying science will be.

Jill: How do you see sustainability taking part in a task in STEM and in partaking girls and women in science?

Kim: I predict in the present day’s function of sustainability in STEM and fascinating girls and women in science might be just like the function environmental research has had for the reason that early Nineteen Nineties, once I was an undergraduate attending Michigan Technological College, a science and engineering-focused school.

At the moment, levels in environmental science or environmental engineering have been scarce and largely a spotlight of examine in biochemistry or civil engineering levels. However over the previous 30 years, a number of the best will increase in undergraduate and graduate STEM levels have been in environmental science and engineering.

The impression at Michigan Tech alone introduced the development of the Dow Environmental Science and Engineering Constructing. And though engineering is a traditionally male-dominated house, environmental engineering is seeing this gender imbalance flipped at some schools throughout the nation with girls equal to or larger than males in enrollment. Now, sustainability is on the forefront of environmental science and engineering levels, analysis and careers. I’m excited concerning the future progress of environmental science with various voices and concepts concerned, notably these from girls and minority teams who’ve been beforehand ignored of the dialog.

Jill: Why and when did you begin speaking about plastics in your TikTok channel?

Kim: My first viral plastic video, posted in 2021, featured a easy how-to on making samples of starch-based plastics – and it bought greater than 2 million views! The thought for this video got here from my followers’ curiosity in bio-based plastics constituted of renewable biomass sources, like vegetable fat and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust and recycled meals waste. Since lots of my viewers do not have a powerful background in science, I jumped on the alternative to attach chemistry to their on a regular basis lives by means of that first video.

Jill: Who has been most conscious of your movies about plastic?

Kim: I used to be pleasantly stunned to find that my movies about plastic are widespread outdoors of the U.S., particularly in locations just like the Philippines and Indonesia. In each nations, viewers have shared feedback about how they scale back plastic waste of their on a regular basis lives. In distinction, folks publish feedback which can be skeptical about recycling and sustainable plastics, which creates a possibility for wholesome dialogue. My objective is to focus on how science is vital to tackling points like local weather change and the immense potential it has to make an impression.

“Throughout our partnership, I have been each stunned and excited to study Dow’s funding in each superior and mechanical recycling and its efforts towards making a zero-waste financial system.”

Jill: What do you know about Dow earlier than our partnership? What have been you stunned to study in the course of the partnership about our firm?

Kim: I accomplished my chemistry undergraduate and graduate work in Michigan colleges and lived close to Dow’s headquarters for a number of years, so I’ve at all times been eager about its work. Throughout our partnership, I have been each stunned and excited to study Dow’s funding in each superior and mechanical recycling and its efforts towards making a zero-waste financial system. I really feel nice pleasure on this partnership and the power to share on my platform that one of many largest plastic manufacturing corporations on this planet is taking a daring step towards fixing our plastic waste downside.

Jill: How do you hope your content material will contribute to conversations round plastics?

Kim: I am hopeful that my followers and others will really feel extra motivated to cut back, reuse and recycle plastics after understanding the science behind how they’re made and repurposed. I try to assist customers take a look at plastic waste as a useful resource. Due to Dow and superior recycling, we’re instructing those who plastic’s worth goes far past its first use.

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