Along with Webber Scholars participating in scientific research, Mr. Webber 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."
Willamette Chemistry Professor Kiki Brink developed the WSOP program in the 1995-96 academic year. She coordinated all aspects of the implementation of the Webber Scholarship so that it would become a strong academic, research, and community outreach program for Willamette University.
Webber scholarship awards are available to juniors and seniors (who apply as sophomores and juniors) that are declared majors in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics. Webber Scholars are required to participate in the WSOP program which enables them to share their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the sciences with children. Each scholar is responsible for developing hands-on activities in her field of science and supporting the other scholars in the classroom when they teach their projects. As much as possible, the class sessions are designed and ordered to illustrate the interconnectedness of the fields of science.
In the research pillar of the Webber Scholarship program, scholars engage in original research in the lab of a Willamette professor during the summer that follows their academic year outreach activities. Webber Scholars receive a stipend for their participation in the Science Collaborative Research Program, and present their results at the end of the summer. In line with the opportunity to enthusiastically share science with young children in the classroom, Webber Scholars also gain experience in sharing high-level research results with the broader scientific community.