From experiments demonstrating chemical reactions to making glow-in-the-dark play slime and even a Moon “rover," several Valero sites hosted events with young people during the week of National STEM Day, Nov. 8, a salute to all things science, technology engineering and math.

Valero is an active promoter of STEM programs in its communities, and a proud employee of more than 900 engineers and thousands of lab technicians, maintenance and operations team members fueling STEM across the company.
“I feel that it is important to give students an opportunity to explore different facets of the science and engineering disciplines at a young age," said Jerry Stumbo, Vice President and General Manager of the Valero St. Charles Refinery in Louisiana. “That's why our volunteers work closely with the local school systems. We want to support and help educate local students about the importance of STEM, especially because it is the foundation of the refining process."

Here is a quick sampling, from our sites:

  • McKee refinery engineers performed various science experiments with elementary school students related to topics they were studying, such as states of matter and indicators of a chemical reaction.

     A “crush the can" experiment involved boiling water in a soft-drink can, rapidly condensing steam by dunking the can in ice water and then watching the steam pull the sides of the can until crushing it – teaching students about different states of matter, and how the same molecule can behave differently as a solid, liquid or gas.

    Demonstrating a chemical reaction, the engineers showed how filling a balloon with baking soda, wrapping the opening of the balloon around the top of a bottle filled with vinegar and then dumping the baking soda into the bottle produces gas that then inflates the balloon.

  • Similarly, at a local event, volunteers from Valero Renewables-Welcome demonstrated the concept of ethanol fermentation, with a simple experiment using yeast, water and sugar, in a bottle with a balloon. As the yeast breaks down the sugar, it forces gas upward in the bottle and inflates the balloon.
  • At headquarters, Valero continued as leading sponsor of the CORE4 STEM Expo in San Antonio for more than 4,000 middle-schoolers, highlighting its “Fueling Exceptional Futures" recruiting brand with volunteers engaging students with interactive challenges focused on engineering, physics and information technology. At the same time, students learned about Valero's business and impact on the world.
  • And at St. Charles, volunteers hosted a STEM booth at a local elementary school family day to make glow-in-the-dark play slime with students. They also visited local high schools and completed demonstrations including teaching students how basic electrical circuits work using LED.

    In another one, called “roving the Moon," students built propelling cars from cardboard, straws, pencils and rubber bands.

Our Meraux, Houston, Texas City, Corpus Christi, Wilmington and Benicia refineries, and our Charles City ethanol plant, also reported participating in or supporting STEM-related events.

“It makes me proud to see so many Valero Volunteers across numerous sites promoting STEM in their local communities," said Lead Community Relations Specialist Taryn Rogers, at St. Charles and Meraux, who coordinated STEM events companywide. “I think the students really enjoyed learning about the obtainable careers in the disciplines of STEM."