UTEP’s Work With a Scientist Program Launches 2nd Cohort of High School Researchers

An orientation for the second group of local high school students participating in UTEP’s Work With a Scientist Program will take place from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, in the Chemistry and Computer Science Building, room G.0208B.

The program, which gives young students a first taste of hands-on research alongside UTEP scientists, is funded by a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Work With A Scientist Program provides a seven-month internship during which students conduct scientific projects based on their own interests with the support of UTEP scientists and laboratory resources. The program also allows educational researchers to understand how to improve communication between students and scientists and how to enhance students’ partnership with scientists.

“The spirit of the project is to introduce the pedagogical tool of cogenerative dialogues – in which scientists and high school students discuss and develop the teaching and learning process – with the goal of shortening gaps in knowledge, status or power between them,” said Program Director Pei-Ling Hsu, Ph.D., assistant professor of science education.

The University’s colleges of Education, Engineering and Science have partnered with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) to provide immersive learning opportunities for high schoolers to learn the true ins-and-outs of research under the guidance of professional scientists, who also are faculty within those UTEP colleges and their associated departments.

Irvin High School was chosen for the program’s first year based on its designation by the Texas Education Agency as a T-STEM Academy, which means the campus curriculum is tied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to improve students’ chances of going into higher education and careers in these fields.

Approximately 83 percent of Irvin’s student body is considered economically disadvantaged and thus not typically given access to the STEM sectors.

Participants in this second cohort also include students from Andress and Chapin high schools.

Saturday’s orientation agenda includes welcome speeches by Hsu and EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera; scientific presentations by faculty in medicinal chemistry, neuroscience and immunology; and small group meetings.