Tulane hosts STEM summer program for teens

During the program, high school students enroll in college-credit courses with a focus on science and engineering.

Courtesy of Michelle Hewlett Sanchez

During the program, high school students enroll in college-credit courses with a focus on science and engineering.

While some Tulane students will be relaxing during summer vacation, more than 100 high school students from around the world will be coming to the Uptown campus for a university experience of their own. The Tulane Science Scholars Program annually brings in students from around the country and China for a two-week science and engineering program.

During the program, high school students enroll in college-credit courses. While the program focuses on science and engineering, the eight available courses range in topics from chemical engineering to animal behavior.

“The courses are all hands-on and lab-oriented,” Michelle Hewlett Sanchez, professor of practice and director for K-12 STEM outreach, said. “They get to see firsthand the types of hands-on labs and exciting research that undergraduates in the School of Science and Engineering are able to do during their time at Tulane.”

Throughout the program, both undergraduate and graduate students work with the high schoolers to give them a taste of what they do each day as STEM students at Tulane. Third-year physics graduate student Kazi Islam works with students in his solar lab.

“What our lab does is we demonstrate a solar lab,” Islam said. “So, we are bringing these kids and then we give them solar cells. Then we give them 20 different tasks to do with them.”

In addition to their time in the classroom, the high schoolers are exposed leading figures in STEM industries as they hear from them at organized “lunch-n-learns.”

Balancing a schedule of classes and the accompanying workload, the students are given the opportunity to experience “college life” to its fullest. Most of the participating students live on campus for two weeks in Aron Residences.

“TSSP participants are registered Tulane students,” Sanchez said. “This is not a summer camp. They learn to manage their down time in order to complete homework and study outside of class.”

Tulane Science Scholars Program works to expose high school students to the STEM field and offer them hands-on experience before they reach university. According to Sanchez, STEM is the future, and more STEM college graduates are needed to keep up with a rising job demand.

“You bring them in and show them that science is not just geeky but also cool, and probably it will stay with them and they will be interested to do science,” Islam said.

As TSSP grows in popularity each summer, Sanchez wants to expand the program even beyond the Science and Engineering schools and into all five Tulane colleges.

“Our goal is to offer a course in each department of the School of Science and Engineering,” Sanchez said. “We also hope to expand beyond STEM by offering courses in all of Tulane’s undergraduate programs.”

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