Winning Young Hearts and Minds for Science

WYHMS is an inspirational and motivational presentation for middle and high school students designed to complement the hands-on activities of the Young Scientist Program (YSP) programs. WYHMS was initiated in 2008 by Dr. Matthew Ndonwi, a staff scientist in the Department of Internal Medicine.

The presentation is designed with the vision of an encounter between students and a professional scientist from which the students emerge as part of the scientific citizenry, with new and/or renewed:

  • confidence to engage in science
  • inspiration to value and take charge of their education
  • commitment to exhibit their highest scholarship potential

The 30-minute or one-hour interactive presentation stresses the value of education, demystifies science and scientists, and highlights how any child can grow up to become a scientist. The talk is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1 discerns science from science fiction, compares scientific professions to other careers, and discusses the impact of a variety of scientific careers.
  • Part 2 teaches students a simple fail-safe strategy for learning science.
  • Part 3 illustrates the applicability of the information that is presented to the students by sharing life experiences. Dr. Ndonwi tells the story of growing up in a remote West African village, his educational history, and how he became a scientist at Washington University School of Medicine.

Using a serious yet fun tone, WYHMS provides students with insights into scholarship, academic excellence and the path to college. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds or from ethnic groups typically underrepresented in science are likely to benefit most from this program.

WYHMS has reached students on field trips to Washington University and in school classrooms, science clubs, and full assemblies. Since 2008 over 1,000 students representing more than 20 schools or youth programs in the St. Louis Metro area have benefited from this program.