Baylor's Unique Summer Science Program Continues Strong

June 26, 2006

Students To Give Presentation

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Developing potential researchers in the sciences has long been an emphasis of Baylor University's High School Summer Science Research Program (HSSSRP), and with this summer's application numbers, the program is stronger than ever.

Since 1991, exceptional high school students from across the country have joined Baylor scientists and their teams on research projects. The students work side-by-side with the researchers, sharing in responsibilities and in many cases, conducting the research. The students also participate in social and recreational activities with other high school students in the program.

"Giving these students who are entering their senior year of high school the opportunity to be part of actual scientific research certainly makes this program unique," said Dr. Frank Mathis, who is the program's director and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor.

The 10 students in this summer's program were chosen from more than 60 applicants, one of the largest applicant pools ever received. The students also are some of the most gifted as many of the participants have scored above 1400 on the SAT.

Mathis said the new 508,000-square-foot Baylor Sciences Building (BSB) has become one of the main attractions for the program, as well as for hundreds of other high school students interested in the university.

The $103 million, four story, BSB opened in the summer of 2004. The building's architecture enhances Baylor's long tradition of excellence in the sciences and medical education and consolidates the science disciplines of chemistry, biology, geology, physics and neuroscience. Baylor officials said prior to the BSB, maybe one or two students in HSSSRP would eventually call Baylor their university home. However, since the building has opened, the number has jumped to as high as seven students expressing an interest to return to Baylor for college study.

The purpose of the HSSSRP is to promote science and math to gifted students, and get them "hands-on" research experience. This year, students will write a report outlining what role they played in the research and what they learned. They will then showcase their papers during a day-long presentation starting at 10 a.m. Friday, June 30, in room D110 of the BSB. Each power point presentation will last about 15 minutes.

"The paper will be almost to the level of a scientific journal article," Mathis said. "It's just a way for them to document their experience."

The year, the students are involved in a multitude of Baylor research projects including a study looking into the by-products that are created when making cellulosic ethanol. Another project is a study into bone-joint replacement, which is analyzing what materials fare better inside the body.

Mathis also said he would like to increase the number of students who can participate in the program sometime in the near future.

For more information, contact Frank Mathis at (254) 710-4288.

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