Catalysts for Change

Catalysts for Change is an outreach program for St. Louis high school girls stemming from Washington University’s undergraduate Women in Science Program, which is a four-year mentoring program for young women in the STEM disciplines. As part of the Women In Science program, undergraduate women, supported by graduate women in the sciences, help organize and lead Catalysts for Change, a two-day STEM workshop for high-school girls across the St. Louis area. Since 2011, 244 high-school girls, from 44 St. Louis-area high schools, have participated in Catalysts for Change. The program employs a three-tiered mentoring structure that gives graduate students the chance to create lab lessons and undergraduate women the chance to learn from female graduate students while helping younger girls grow in confidence in the STEM fields.

Washington University Chemistry Graduate Students:

  • Create lab lessons
  • Design and teach fun science activities
  • Mentor undergraduate students

Washington University Chemistry Undergraduate Students:

  • Serve as mentors for high-school students
  • Act as team leaders to guide the students through fun experiments
  • Network with diverse female STEM professionals working in various careers ranging from civil engineering to pharmaceuticals to zoo medicine

St. Louis Area High School Students:

  • Learn about principles in materials science, the process of photosynthesis, and chemical properties and reactions
  • Connect with college students who show them where they could be in their studies in a few years
  • Recognize that they will need to develop a good foundation in the fundamentals of various STEM disciplines for more specialized study in the future
  • Explore diverse STEM careers by meeting with successful local women in STEM fields

Catalysts for Change is a collaboration between the Women in Science Program, the Department of Chemistry, the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Teaching Center. Since 2012, the program has been funded by the Department of Chemistry, the Teaching Center, and a grant from the Women’s Society of Washington University.

Contact us to learn more or get involved!

Catalyst for Change Activities

Catalysts for Change Workshops

Each Catalysts for Change workshop is focused on a separate area in STEM (biology, physical sciences, engineering, as well as interdisciplinary) with several short activities that the students complete in small groups facilitated by an undergraduate female from a STEM field. The activities are led by postdocs and graduate students from the Department of Chemistry.

In the News: Sharing STEM with local high school girls

Saturday Presentations

Each Saturday of the Catalysts for Change program, local female STEM professionals visit to give brief presentations and answer questions about their work and experiences in STEM.

"Our participation showed the students that there is not one single type of individual who is able to pursue science. We, as well as the graduate students, likely did not fit stereotypes that many of the girls held regarding what a successful scientist or student in the sciences might look and act like. Rather, anyone is capable of pursuing science."

Washington University's Chemistry Tournament

Students who are enrolled in a high school (grades 9-12) are eligible to participate in the Washington University in St. Louis Chemistry Tournament. WUCT is a day-long event, with all teams checking in at 7:15 AM and an awards ceremony ending at approximately 6:00 PM. A more detailed schedule with locations will be posted before the weeks leading up to event day. Teams will receive personalized schedules (ie specific rooms for exams) when they first arrive campus.

Our next tournament is on Saturday, April 6th, 2019.  Registration is now open!

learn more about WUCT and register

Washington University in St. Louis 4th Annual Chemistry Tournament

An introduction to WUCT, its origins, its philosophies, and its format. We hope to see your involvement in WUCT in the near future!