Applications for Scots Science Scholars program accepted through March 1

Feb. 8, 2013
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

The deadline to apply to Maryville College’s new Scots Science Scholars (S3) program is quickly approaching.

Funded with a grant of nearly $400,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP), S3 will provide enrichment and support for select college students who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields at the College.

“The goal of this program is to increase the number of students who graduate from Maryville College with a STEM major, especially students from underrepresented groups,” explained Dr. Angelia Gibson, associate professor of chemistry and a co-principal investigator of the grant. “The grant funding will provide incredible opportunities for all of our STEM majors, including regular campus-wide events, field trips and independent research, but a large focus of the grant will be on assisting students who demonstrate promise and interest in math and science but may not have the academic foundation or confidence needed to succeed in those college-level courses.

“S3 is designed to challenge these students, but also provide the support and enrichment that will help them persist to graduation.”

Starting this fall, Maryville College will accept 15 students of promise – all incoming freshman – as Scots Science Scholars. And another 72 students will be welcomed into the program over the next four years.

The deadline to apply for the S3 program for fall 2013 has been extended to Fri., March 1, 2013.

An online application is available on the Maryville College website. Students who are interested in pursuing STEM majors at Maryville College are encouraged to apply.

Summer program to emphasize math

The S3 program includes several components, including a three-week, all-expense-paid summer bridge program, which will provide extra preparation for first-year courses, especially in math. The bridge program also promises early engagement with faculty members and a peer group, exposure to research through field trips and laboratory assignments, and exposure to various vocational options through interaction with STEM professionals.

The summer curriculum will also provide opportunities to integrate STEM research with recreational experiences in the area, so students will learn and play together.

Students each will receive a $1,150 stipend for participating in the summer program and a $20,000/year scholarship to Maryville College. (This scholarship cannot be added to a student’s merit-based award offered by the College.)

“Math will be emphasized in this summer program because math preparation and proficiency – quantitative literacy – is the single best indicator for STEM persistence nationwide,” explained Dr. Maria Siopsis, associate professor of mathematics and a co-principal investigator of the grant. “We want to ensure that our S3 participants are college ready.”

Over the next four years, S3 participants will participate in a curriculum that is designed to build community and provide academic support, including a specialized first-year sequence tailored to appeal to the interests and needs of S3 students.

They will also participate in research and leadership experiences that are integrated with the Maryville College core curriculum, including many opportunities to begin research on exciting STEM projects with faculty at MC.

“And in future years, S3 students will become visible role models and ambassadors for the math and science programs at Maryville College,” Siopsis pointed out.

More professionals needed in STEM fields

Last year, the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) projected one million fewer STEM graduates than will be needed in 2018. Nationwide, the attrition rate for college students interested in STEM is greater than 60 percent.

Grants by the NSF through its Stem Talent Expansion Program (STEP) are being awarded to address the projected shortfall, Gibson explained.

“A vital civilization needs water, food, energy, housing, medicine, environmental management, transportation, communication and defense,” Gibson said. “STEM fields are essential in advancing all of these.”

Students should be interested in STEM careers because of the job forecast.

According to PCAST, STEM occupations were projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

“STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts, and STEM occupations consistently have lower unemployment rates than non-STEM occupations,” Gibson added.