MilliporeSigma’s SPARK Week Ignites Volunteerism Worldwide

Sep 10, 2018 12:30 PM ET

Hundreds of employees gave back to their local communities and beyond during MilliporeSigma’s Celebration of SPARK Week, July 14–22. 

SPARK, MilliporeSigma’s global skills-based volunteer program, allows employees to use their diverse talents, skills and experiences to give back to the communities in which they live and work. All activities are employee-led and include everything from Science Day Expos — during which employees lead a variety of small-scale, interactive experiments during scheduled school-wide events — to Site Hosting — where employees invite students to their local MilliporeSigma site for an educational tour, hands-on activities and thought-provoking discussions about science. Curiosity Labs™ and the Curiosity Cube™ mobile science lab are at the center of the SPARK initiative and are designed to educate and inspire students through hands-on, interactive science lessons. SPARK events also include civic opportunities, such as meal packing events, park clean-ups and volunteering at a food bank.

During SPARK Week, employees took part in events ranging from scientific education and career exploration to fighting hunger and providing materials for families in need. In addition to SPARK events organized throughout the year, the dedicated SPARK weeks bring employees together at specific and consistent points in time.

Rising Against Hunger With 500,000 Meals Packed 

SPARK Week proved to be a memorable one in the fight against world hunger as Rise Against Hunger, an international food relief agency, recognized MilliporeSigma for providing more than half a million nutritious meals to individuals in need around the globe. The award was presented during a meal-packing event, held at the company’s Milwaukee facility — one of three events that took place during SPARK Week. In total, more than 400 volunteers from Milwaukee, St. Louis and Temecula, Calif. packed approximately 65,000 meals alone at the three SPARK Week events. "This is one of my favorite company events. It's exciting to see my colleagues energized about making a difference together," said event organizer and volunteer Samantha Montie. MilliporeSigma first partnered with Rise Against Hunger in 2016 and has worked with them each year since to host meal-packing events.

Igniting a Passion for Science in Tokyo, Japan 

MilliporeSigma’s Tokyo team used SPARK Week as an opportunity to bring hands-on science lessons to students and parents through a biopharm lecture and experiment at the site's M Lab™ Collaboration Center, as well as through Curiosity Labs™ lessons on chemiluminescence at the Science Museum in Tokyo. Reflecting on the experience, first-time employee volunteer Maki Kikuchi said, "Through the children's learning, I also have become interested in science and enjoyed the experience." Volunteer Hiroku Oishi echoed the sentiment. "I always find new discoveries through the SPARK volunteer activities with colleagues of different departments."

100 Visitors Catch a SPARK for Science in Darmstadt, Germany

In Darmstadt, MilliporeSigma employees invited kids of both colleagues and the neighborhood together, with their parents, to a SPARK event on campus. Approximately 100 visitors, 8 years old and up, discovered their passion for experimentation on July 19t h — trying out hygiene monitoring systems, testing mobile phones, hands, soles and coins for biological residues, and seeing cleanroom production. More than 30 colleagues from the company and quality control teamed up with Friederike Herrmann, plant manager, to make this experience possible. "It's nice to see the excitement in the eyes of our visitors. Many of our colleagues are happy to take their children behind the factory gates. Many of our neighbors have also taken the opportunity," Herrmann said.

Helping St. Louis Teachers SPARK an Interest in STEM 

STEMpact, one of MilliporeSigma’s largest and longest running partners, is an organization dedicated to improving STEM education by developing STEM-capable teachers. During SPARK Week, MilliporeSigma hosted 25 teachers from STEMpact's Teacher Quality Institute so they could observe the workings of a life science company, interact with MilliporeSigma’s scientists and take part in a Curiosity Labs™ experiment. An article about the event appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Teaching Water Filtration at School STEM Day in Gillingham, UK
Fifteen volunteers from across the Gillingham site took part in a STEM day at the local school. As part of the global SPARK program, they leveraged the Curiosity Labs™ program to introduce Year Nine students (13- and 14- year-olds) to the world of water filtration. The children embraced the experience with enthusiasm. Many of them successfully designed a filter that exceeded the employees' own filter design from their trial run, producing clearer water! "It's not easy to convince a 13-year-old that science is cool, but with the help of an excellent and engaging practical, I think we got pretty close," said employee volunteer Marcus Armstrong. "An extremely rewarding day for all involved; I think we may have helped direct a few bright sparks towards a glowing future in science."

Volunteering Aboard the 'Chemistry on the Go' Science Truck in Taitung, Taiwan

As part of MilliporeSigma’s Signature Partnership with Tamkang University in Taiwan, the 'Chemistry on the Go' science truck made its debut this summer. 'Chemistry on the Go' is an initiative organized by Tamkang University in Taiwan — dedicated to utilizing fun experiments to reach elementary and middle school students in Taiwan and get them excited about science. On July 17, five MilliporeSigma employees from the Kaohsiung site volunteered in Taitung, a beautiful yet remote area on the east coast of the island. Volunteers taught 25 students how to make their own lava lamps, slime and more.

Welcoming Children for a Day of Science and Fun in Barueri, Brazil

Have you ever imagined arriving at work and finding 70 children dressed as scientists? This was the reception at MilliporeSigma’s Barueri, Brazil site earlier this summer, when employees arrived at MilliporeSigma Kids. The initiative, organized by the Marketing and Communication division of MilliporeSigma and Performance Materials, aimed at helping employees' children get to know the space where their parents work, as well as sparking their interest in vibrant science and technology. For this, they won a special costume — a lab coat with the company’s logo and their name embroidered — and a day filled with a special schedule. The day included a cupcake workshop, games, a tour of the site, a theatrical performance and a special presentation of Science on Show, which included visually exciting and fun science experiments with static electricity liquid nitrogen.

KINDERFORSCHER Project Lead Praises SPARK Support in Hamburg, Germany

"A class of 24 eighth-graders from the Goethe School really enjoyed the fantastic SPARK program," reported Gesine Liese, head of the KINDERFORSCHER Project, a STEM education program coordinated through the Hamburg University of Technology. She went on to say, "The students are participating very enthusiastically and asking lots of questions about what it's like to be a chemist. A parent contacted KINDERFORSCHER after the SPARK event and reported how inspired her son was after this great classroom experience." 

Curiosity Cube™ Mobile Science Lab

Wisconsin was the place to be curious during SPARK Week, as the Curiosity Cube™ mobile science lab hosted hundreds of visitors in both Madison and Sheboygan. Events included site visits, a variety of summer camps, a Mallard's baseball game and even a Maker's Faire at a Sheboygan library. Rain presented a few challenges but didn't dampen the volunteer spirit as dedicated employees turned out to fill almost every volunteer spot! The Curiosity Cube™ mobile science lab is traveling to more than two dozen cities throughout the U.S. in 2018. Follow the journey at