NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Student Success Update

Foundations to Success in Organic Chemistry

The Foundations to Success in Organic Chemistry summer program kicked off on Monday, August 3, with 52 students enrolled. In its 5th year, the program is being offered in a fully online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program recruits students identified as at-risk for success in Organic Chemistry 1 based on their performance in the Fundamentals of Chemistry 2 course. Recruiting efforts are particularly directed toward students who transferred their Chemistry 2 credit to UH from a community college.

The program runs for two weeks from 9 am – 1 pm on weekdays. Ognjen Miljanic, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, engages the participants in a Fundamentals of Chemistry 2 review which focuses on mastery of key concepts that are critical for success in the Organic Chemistry course. The participants are also exposed to introductory topics in Organic Chemistry to give them a jump-start on the course content for the fall semester. Through small-group problem-solving sessions led by graduate teaching assistants, the students have the opportunity to practice and apply the concepts they have learned. To help the students with study skills, motivation, and time management, they also participate in a daily 30-minute student success session led by Donna Pattison, Assistant Dean for Student Success.

UH STEM Center Engages 3rd–6th Graders in ITECH-STEM Summer Experience

The UH STEM Center sponsored the ITECH-STEM Virtual Experience for 3rd–6th grade students on July 20–26. The camp was an overall success with 61 students from 12 school districts, including students from outside Texas (South Carolina and Florida).

Heather Domjan, STEM Center Director, partnered with Bulent Dogan, Director of ITECH-STEM and UH College of Education Clinical Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction, to facilitate the virtual experience. Students were provided a Microbit pocket-sized computer to engage in activities where they learned Scratch programming language, 3D Printing, and Digital Storytelling. The camp also engaged 22 mentors, 10 UH student organizations, and 53 high school interns to work with the participants.

A virtual ITECH-STEM Award Ceremony was held where student groups presented COVID-related public service announcements they developed using the coding they learned. The top three PSAs were showcased during the award ceremony, and the attendees voted using a Zoom poll to determine the winners. The participants also received certificates of achievement and special awards from the mentors who led their groups. This experience was an excellent opportunity to engage students in STEM learning activities in a time when traditional summer camps were not available.

NSM Student Leader Retreat

The NSM Student Leadership team hosted over 50 student leaders virtually for a two-day leadership retreat on August 10 and 11. NSM Student Leadership is comprised of outstanding NSM undergraduates across three branches: ambassadors, peer mentors, and the programming board.

The retreat featured team-building activities and leadership skills training and allowed the student leaders to create lasting bonds through an atmosphere of collaboration via a virtual platform. They are now imbued with a new sense of excitement for the Fall 2020 semester and ready to face the challenges posed by engaging through an online environment. This fall, the student leaders will continue to work on recruiting new undergraduates to NSM and hosting events to engage and retain current NSM majors through upcoming activities such as the NSM Talks, Listens and Shares events.