About WSOP


Mr. Webber had some aspects of his scholarship program extremely well conceived. In particular, he was firm that the program must have a community outreach component; specifically, the recipients must not only be women science majors but must also become actively involved in encouraging school age children to learn more about science. In Mr. Webber's words, "Young girls are an untapped resource in science, mathematics, and engineering and therefore they need encouragement and positive role-models so that they will continue to pursue their studies in these areas."

Dr. Christina Brink, PhD, developed the WSOP program in the 1995/96 academic year. She spent that year coordinating all aspects of the implementation of the Webber Scholarship so that it would become a strong academic and community outreach program for Willamette University.

Webber scholarship awards are given to juniors and/or seniors who are declared majors in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics. During the fall semester of their award, the scholars meet regularly to devise a twelve-week schedule of class sessions, laboratories, and projects for a classroom of students in the selected public school. The scholars are required to participate in an outreach program which enables them to share their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the sciences with children. Each scholar is responsible for developing a month-long series of weekly hands-on activities as well as two or three hour-long class sessions in her field of science. As much as possible, the class sessions are designed and ordered to illustrate the interconnectedness of the fields of science. Hands-on projects, experiments, and demonstrations are planned and tested, and supplies are ordered. Though each scholar is responsible for leading some class sessions individually, several group sessions are also planned. Typically, the first and last meeting with the class are group led, and occasionally two scholars present a session that combines their two fields of science.

There are also other similar programs across the United States, such as the "National Girls Collaborative Project": National Girls Collaborative Project.

Program Expectations

Time commitment:

During the fall semester, all scholars are required meet weekly for one hour (Thursday 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., unless there is consensus on an alternate time) to organize and plan the group’s hands-on lessons for the following spring. Scholars will also need to spend on average one or two hours per week outside of meetings designing and preparing lessons, and make at least one visit to the school they will be working with in the spring.

During the spring semester, all scholars will participate in weekly pre-planning meetings (again, 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.), and will participate in weekly school visits (about two hours on Thursday mornings, 8:15-10:15 a.m.) for approximately 13 consecutive weeks (excluding spring break). Each scholar will be responsible for either leading a week’s presentation or helping to facilitate another scholar’s presentation.

Fall: You must attend all weekly group meetings to brainstorm lesson plans and ideas for experiments and demos. We will focus on one lesson per week. The two scholars from one department will work together on their lessons and present the same lesson on the same day to two different elementary schools (Highland and Bush). That means that you can share the work load, e.g. one scholar focuses on the handouts and the other on the demos and experiments. Make sure that both of you are familiar and happy with the full lesson as you will present it on your own. At the end of each group meeting, the presenting scholars must have a clear idea of the experiments and demonstrations they want to show, a lesson plan and an outline of their handouts. Handouts can be finalized in the spring semester.

In addition to the handout scholars must have a detailed written lesson plan for each lesson. Lesson plans must include a detailed list of all the materials that you need for your demos and experiments. Lesson plans should also contain detailed instructions for the remaining scholars who will assist in the implementation of the lessons. Assigning who does what is also a good idea. Each department will develop 3 different lessons. Feel free to browse through the wise site to come up with ideas for lessons. It is absolutely ok to take someone else’s lesson and adapt it for your own needs. Last semester we also had one interdisciplinary lesson which was great fun. Feel free to explore this option some more!

The main goal of your lessons should be to engage, excite and encourage all students (especially girls) at the 5th grade level through hands-on activities. The emphasis should be on hands-on – the more they do actively, the more engaged they will be. All lessons should follow the scientific method (problem, hypothesis, observation, analysis, conclusions, results).

In preparing your lesson plan and handouts, think about how you want to involve the kids in developing good questions and testable hypotheses, in designing an experiment with certain controls, in gathering and analyzing data, and in drawing a conclusion. Work out most of this in their handouts. Leave blanks for them to fill in the missing key words. A word bank at the bottom of the page is very helpful: it helps slower students catch up and it allows you to actively engage students by asking what they think should go in the blanks (it is much easier for them to participate if they see possible answers).

Keep in mind that through your interactions with the kids you serve as a female science role model and mentor. Behave accordingly. For example, one of our signatures are the white lab coats. Make sure that yours is always in good shape and always bring it when we visit the schools.

From past experience, the kids’ skills vary widely: From student who have trouble spelling or writing to students who can lead an adult conversation with you. Be prepared to engage all of them (which is not easy!). That probably means aiming somewhere in the middle and having some extra goodies for the more advanced students. It is also a good idea to prepare some additional material in case your lesson is shorter than expected.

Also during the fall semester you must order or purchase all the materials that you need (unless they need to be purchased right before the lesson like milk or fruit). If it is something that is easily obtainable (e.g. pens or paper) please purchase these items yourself and Michaela will reimburse you for your expenses (make sure to keep the receipt!). If it is something more exotic please let Dolores know and she will order it for you. Also please browse through our stack – we already have a lot of the more common materials. Feel free to reuse those.

By the end of the fall semester we will decide the sequence of the lesson plans for the spring semester. Things to consider are content, logical flow, other obligations, etc.

At the beginning of the fall semester you must submit an autobiography which will be archived and sent to the Webber family. The autobiography should contain your name and major (plus graduation year), and a one paragraph narrative that answers the following questions (you can address them in any order that is most convenient for you):

  • What is your earliest memory of science and who are the people that influenced you?
  • Why did you choose Willamette University?
  • What are your reasons for applying for the William B. Webber Scholarship?
  • Do you think you made an impact on the kids you worked with? If so, how?
  • What are your future plans?

Within the first week of the fall semester, please check and make sure that you have access to the wise site (we share and archive our lesson plans and handouts there) and to our facebook group. It is your responsibility to upload your final lesson plans and handouts and to help us keep that site useful and usable.

Spring: Plan for 14 meetings through the spring semester (excluding spring break). The first one will be a fun break-the-ice project called “Science in a Bag” (more below), the last one will be a farewell party here at Willamette. In between will be the 12 science activities designed by you!

You must attend both weekly group meetings. During our Tuesday morning meetings we will finalize the handouts and lesson plans, and we will practice the demos and make sure that they work. This is a crucial meeting to ensure that everything will go smoothly on the following Thursday. Make sure that you have all the necessary supplies before coming to the Tuesday meeting! On Thursday morning, we will meet in the Webber room to gather the supplies and then travel to the school. We need to be there by 8:30 a.m. at the latest to have enough time to set up and prepare. The lesson should begin at 8:45 a.m., and end at about 9:30 a.m., to give us time to clean up and get back to campus by 10 a.m.

After the lesson, upload your polished lesson plans and handouts to the wise website. Include a written evaluation commenting on the strength and weakness of the lesson and include comments about future improvement.

In addition to class room visits we will have about two or three Willamette field trips. If you think of a lesson that would work better here on campus let us know and we can arrange a field trip.

Good luck and have fun!