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Student success STEMs from scholarship lottery

11-14 Science Day source photo (3 of 3).JPG

Weber State University student-hopefuls who participated in Weber Science Day on Nov. 10 were randomly selected to win scholarships.

Weber Science Day is a yearly event hosted at Tracy Hall Science Center, sponsored by WSU’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME) and College of Science.

High school students in attendance learned about the sciences from WSU faculty. Workshops included topics like botany, chemistry, planet orbit trajectory and more.

According to Jennifer Claesgens, director of WSU’s College of Science, this was the second Weber Science Day event. Claesgens said the college is trying to find the best way to reach out to students for future events.

“What we really want is for this experience to help students understand what it’s like to step into a college classroom and learn what it’s like to be a college student,” said Claesgens.

Students who registered and submitted a survey were randomly selected to win either a $500 or $1000 WSU scholarship. One of the lucky students this year was Nellie Hughes, who won the $1000 scholarship.

Hughes became aware of the event when she saw a flyer at the STEM Expo event on Nov. 5th at the Davis Conference Center.

There was also a workshop for parents, and according to Jennifer Hughes, Nellie’s mother, it informed parents about FAFSA, housing, prerequisites for English and math courses and parking.

Nellie went to the chemistry workshop with Dr. Brandon Burnett and the botany workshop with Dr. Heather Root, and although she wasn’t sure what to expect, she said she enjoyed the experience.

“I thought it was just going to be demonstrations, but they talked more about what they did and why they were interested,” Nellie said.

Nellie said learning the professors’ backgrounds helped her understand what it would take to pursue a career in the sciences.

“I love doing outreach,” said Burnett. “I became a scientist because of my grandfather doing outreach for my second grade class. I hope I can reach someone like that.”

Burnett said it was the perfect number of attendees for an in-depth discussion of science, allowing him to individually speak with students and tailor the content to complement those interactions.

Burnett said that though high attendance is ideal for these events, he would do it even if only one student came.

“One of Weber State’s strengths is that the faculty are able to directly interact with our students,” said Burnett. “It’s important for us to show this aspect with students who are considering coming here.”

Claesgens is certain that next year’s event might include sending Weber State employees to nearby high schools to talk about Weber Science Day, as opposed to just flyers and newsletters.

“We will definitely continue the event because the College of Science gets a big marketing push from the university,” said Claesgens. “Sometimes you hear about STEM, and it’s really hard to really know what that means.”

To advocate for science and support future Weber Science Day events, visit the website and click “Donate Now” or contact [email protected] or call 801-626-6160 for more information.

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