Friday, July 31, 2015

UNO to Launch First-Ever STEM Scholars Program for Incoming Freshmen

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The University of New Orleans will hold its first ever STEM Scholars program, a 5-day intensive boot camp for incoming freshmen from Aug. 5-10. Approximately 45 students will participate in the training program, which is designed to jump-start the college careers of students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

According to a 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college with the intention of majoring in a STEM field complete a STEM degree.

"We want to provide our students with the skills they need to succeed," said Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences. "We are launching this program to give STEM freshmen that extra push they need to do well academically, feel comfortable in their new college life and establish relationships that will carry through their time at UNO."

Students will participate in one of three camps: biology, algebra or calculus. They will get a head start on required course content, attend lectures from faculty who teach first-year courses, develop critical skills necessary for academic success, build peer study groups and have a safe space to fail without being graded. The students, who will be guided by peer mentors throughout the camp, will also learn about careers from professionals in STEM fields.

According to program organizers, UNO has modeled STEM Scholars after other intensive transition camps for incoming freshmen that have proven track records of improving students' scores in their fall courses and increasing 4-year graduation rates. A 5-year $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is helping to fund STEM Scholars. UNO also conducted a crowd-funding project to raise an additional $10,000 to offset a portion of the fee that students pay to participate in the camp.