The Young Scientist Program (YSP) is dedicated to attracting pre-college students from disadvantaged backgrounds to scientific careers through activities that emphasize hands-on research and individualized contact between young people and active scientists. Each year, YSP programming reaches hundreds of K-12 students attending St. Louis Public Schools and other regional school districts. We are entirely run by volunteers from Washington University. As scientists, we hope to encourage younger individuals to pursue careers in science by sharing our enthusiasm for what we do.
YSP is currently divided into three branches that work in concert to capture K-12 students’ interest in science early in their educational careers:
- Teaching Teams – Teams introduce K-12 students to various scientific topics through interactive demonstrations and lessons brought directly into their classroom. Teams consist of five to ten volunteers who design and present the curricula in small groups, fostering an atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions. Teaching Teams currently cover topics about anatomy & physiology, chemistry, neuroscience, genetics & genomics, ecology & evolution, and physics.
- Summer Focus – An eight-week funded summer research internship program for high school students. Each student works directly with two Washington University volunteers: a mentor and a tutor. The mentor works one-on-one with the student in a laboratory on a specific project, while the tutor supports the student throughout their research experience. Each high school student meets weekly with their tutor to review materials related to the summer project. Students also take two courses about science communication skills and preparing to apply to colleges.
- Continuing Mentoring – A four-year mentoring program for high school students. High school freshmen who are interested and enthusiastic about STEM are paired with a mentor. Mentors visit their students twice a month in school over their high school careers. Together, mentors & mentees engage in science-related activities as well as one-on-one professional development about ACT prep, college applications and resume writing. We are currently partnered with Soldan International Studies High School and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.