Connecting Industry and Education Through Mentorship and STEM

A Look Inside The Science of Fragrance After School Program With
Bath & Body Works, The PAST Foundation, and Herbert Mills STEAM Elementary School

By Alyssa Reder

In September of 2021, Bath & Body Works Inc. and the PAST Foundation began connecting industry and education through mentorship and STEM program development. Associates of Bath & Body Works took part in a Mentorship Training led by the PAST Foundation. The program involved associates engaging in activities and discussions on: “What are Mentorships; Mentorship is a Two-Way Relationship & Human-Centered Design Thinking,” “Building Connections & Understanding Activity Development,” and “Understanding How to Deploy Learning Activities”. During the “Building Connections & Understanding Activity Development” and the “Understanding How to Deploy Learning Activities,” the Bath & Body Works mentors were introduced to a set of activities that were developed by PAST. Each mentor chose an activity and were tasked with providing additional content to this activity from an industry perspective. Mentors then worked with PAST to solidify their activities to be ready to begin the After-School STEM Program – The Science of Fragrance.

Through their previous work and ongoing partnership, the PAST Foundation connected Bath & Body Works with Herbert Mills STEAM Elementary School, an elementary school located within the Reynoldsburg City School District in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, for the after-school program. As a result, in October of 2021, Bath & Body Works and the PAST Foundation began The Science of Fragrance program with 20-30 fourth grade students. The program will consist of a total of 18 one-hour sessions, each session with a different PAST/Bath & Body Works developed activity.

As of February 2022, ten of those sessions have taken place. Examples of some of the activities that the students have engaged in so far are:

  • Creating a Pollinator
  • Dissecting a Flower
  • Creating a Fragrance
  • Natural versus Chemical Fragrance

Throughout this collaboration between industry and education, there has been a focus on exposing the students to STEM activities, the Bath & Body Works mentors and their insights. However, what was not anticipated was how much understanding the mentors would be gaining from the students.

“Participating in the program has impacted my views on education and working with students by showing me how much of an impact school has on kids at a young age. They are so excited and willing to learn that they volunteer to stay after school. Having an experience like this program shows these kids that there is so much this world has to offer. Some of these kids could grow up to pursue a career at BBW one day or even become a mentor because of having this experience,” remarked Jennifer, a Bath & Body Works associate, on how participating in the program has made an impact on her.

When asked how the program has influenced her, Elizabeth, a Bath & Body Works associate, responded that “Being a mentor in the program has given me more respect to the educators and students I get to work with. It is amazing to see how much these kids already know, and seeing them get to apply that knowledge to an activity in this program is great! Overall, the experience has been wonderful and motivates me now to keep going and building my mentor relationship with the students.”

The students have also shared a similar excitement and admiration for the program and the Bath & Body Works mentors. When asked which activity has been their favorite so far, students Koda, James, and Shark all answered, “Making the perfume!”. When asked why, Koda responded, “Because it was fun and exciting.” Students were also asked what they enjoyed most about working with Bath & Body Works mentors. Student Koda responded, “I got to meet more people.” while Shark responded, “When they help us with stuff.” Fourth-grade student Spencer expressed what he liked best has been “learning about them (the Bath & Body Works mentors).”

A teacher shared with the PAST team that the students who have been participating in the program are using the knowledge gained to inspire their work in the classroom. For example, one fourth-grade teacher at the school explained that, “The students in the fourth grade are assigned a project of researching an endangered species and explore ways that the species could become more protected. A particular group of students who have participated in the program took what they had learned about Pollinators during the after-school session and decided they wanted to create a Pollinator Garden at the school.” The students’ connections inside and outside of the classroom with this program have allowed for more substantial growth in the collaborations between Bath & Body Works, PAST, and Herbert Mills STEAM Elementary.

A portion of each session is dedicated to a 10-minute Question and Answer between the students and the Bath & Body Works mentors. Students can ask the mentors about what they do for Bath & Body Works, the various products of Bath & Body Works, and the different careers that someone who works at Bath & Body Works have available to them. When asked about participating in these Q&A sessions, Elizabeth, a Bath & Body Works associate, says, “It shows me these kids are investing in the projects and in truly learning. I also love their curiosity to learn more about Bath and Body Works. Which makes me feel like they are excited with the sessions we are doing with them and that these sessions are helping to foster a stronger connection to the STEM field, as we were hoping.”

In the remaining sessions, activities will focus on understanding how scents and fragrances are created in nature versus in a lab. Examples of upcoming session activities for the remainder of the 2022 school year are:

  • Candle Making
  • Toxicology
  • Create Your Lotion
  • Make Your Bath Bomb
  • Scented Slime

As the PAST Foundation and Bath & Body Works team prepare for the remaining nine sessions, the students and mentors’ positivity, excitement, and energy for the program continue to grow. At PAST, creating the connection between industry and education is always a priority, and watching this program flourish has provided a purpose and fulfillment for that goal.