The Welch Summer Scholar Program
The Welch Summer Scholars gather to celebrate their time in the program.
Since 1991, Texas Tech has been one of five sites to coordinate the Robert A. Welch Foundation's summer research course for bright and talented high school students. Each June, ten to fourteen high school juniors and seniors spend twenty-nine program days in an intensive course in basic chemical research. The Welch Summer Scholar Program is highly competitive, with many students scoring in the top 1% of their graduating class and with several perfect SAT scores among the more than 150 applicants, annually.
During the first week, we train the students in the more important research skills, such as microchemistry, literature searching, writing scientific papers and keeping a scientific notebook. They choose a mentor by the second week and are then responsible for conducting "Independent" research. There are several organized social events, each with significant faculty participation. The program culminates in a scientific poster session, banquet with presentations of certificates and the submission of a formal scientific paper by each student. The Welch Foundation collects and publishes these papers in a large bound volume.
The Texas Tech site is unique in that we have implemented some very novel chemical education concepts. We have developed an accelerated period, which includes a capstone project that has relevance to chemical analysis, drugs of abuse and their role in the community. We have also experimented with two learning modules that focused on chemical entrepreneurship and the importance of science and engineering in the development of chemical technology. These are now key features of a new and exciting chemistry curriculum that we have developed over the past two years. Finally, we have used this group to develop a new undergraduate research program, "Chemistry In Your Pocket", which Texas Instruments has supported with a donation of calculators, calculator interfaces and chemical sensors, a complement of instrumentation that is now the core of two undergraduate analytical chemistry laboratories.
For more information on the Welch Summer Scholar Program contact the UT Austin Site.