Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics

Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics

Immediate Release  For More Information Contact:   Lori A. Webster, Director of Public Information

405.522.7806, [email protected]

Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics Professor Dr. Fazlur Rahman

Named 2015 Oklahoma Chemist of the Year

OKLAHOMA CITY – June 2, 2015 – A. K. Fazlur Rahman, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, was recently named the 2015 Oklahoma Chemist of the Year.  The award is the most prestigious given to an Oklahoma chemist by the American Chemical Society.

Rahman has been an active and influential force in chemical education for the past two decades.  He has established an impeccable record in national and international arenas having coached several OSSM students to compete in the Chemistry Olympiad.  His students have earned gold, silver and bronze medals for the United States.  Rahman and his colleagues at OSSM have led 10 students to compete in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy and four students who participated in the International Chemistry Olympiad.

 For the past 15 years, Rahman has promoted STEM education in Oklahoma by coaching the OSSM TEAM+S, which stands for Tests of Engineering, Aptitude, Mathematics and Science, an annual competition designed to help students discover their potential for engineering by collaboratively problem-solving, real world challenges.  OSSM students have consistently won state and national championships in the competition. 

For 22 years while at OSSM, Rahman initiated and developed the Organometallic Chemistry Research Program and he has supervised 45 students in chemistry mentorships.  In addition, he has secured research grants to provide a variety of outreach programs designed for students.  His own students from OSSM introduced chemistry principles to hundreds of 4th and 5th graders. He has been instrumental in developing chemistry workshops for middle and high school teachers.  And, he is a charter member of E-team, whose mission is to connect elementary school students with science demonstrations.

Rahman earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Jahangirnagar University, a Master of Science in organic chemistry from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry from The Australian National University. He is the recipient of the Stanford University Teacher Tribute Award for Exceptional Teaching; Sigma Xi Distinguished Teaching Award; American Chemical Society Southwest Regional Award, and the Research Opportunity Award from EpsCOR NSF.  Dr. Rahman received numerous fellowships and he held visiting positions at the University of Rochester, Texas A&M, and the California Institute of Technology.  Rahman has published more than 20 papers and made more than 50 research presentations.

Rahman said that he is humbled and thankful to be included among many of most accomplished chemists in Oklahoma.  He and his family live in Norman.

For more information about OSSM, visit the school’s website at www.ossm.edu.

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Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics

Immediate Release    For More Information Contact:   Lori A. Webster, Director of Public Information

405.522.7806, [email protected]

GE Summer Science Academy Begins

OKLAHOMA CITY – July 17, 2015 – The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics will host the inaugural session of the GE Summer Science Academy beginning Monday, July 20 through Friday, July 24.  Students from across the state and largely from populations under-represented in STEM fields will gather on the OSSM campus for a week of intense learning and study, camaraderie with like-minded students, and summer fun.

The STEM Empowers Oklahoma initiative is a unique collaboration amongst GE, OSSM and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology that provides diverse students from throughout Oklahoma the opportunity to experience STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with curriculum tailored to provide a scholastic program of excellence. 

More than 50 9th, 10th and 11th graders from across the state will attend the summer program.  OSSM faculty and a few adjunct instructors who are experts in their fields will teach a variety of classes including chemistry, math, computer science, physics, video game design, writing, standardized test prep and STEM careers.  Most of the students will stay on campus all week; a handful will commute.  OSSM graduates will act as “camp counselors” overseeing the young men and women in the school’s residence hall. 

Field trips are planned to local museums including the Oklahoma History Center and Science Museum Oklahoma.  Evening events will include a science and discovery “scavenger hunt,” dance party, telescope viewing, water games, picnic, evening hamburger cookout, gym game relays and more.

GE, OSSM and OCAST have identified promising initiatives to promote STEM education in the state.  OSSM worked closely with local school districts across Oklahoma to select 51 students to attend the academy.  GE Foundation grants will cover the expenses of students who attend the academy. 

OSSM serves all Oklahoma schools and students through math contests, research, teacher training and outreach activities.  More than 60 percent of the school’s graduates live and work in Oklahoma.  In addition, 85 percent of alums have careers in STEM fields that include science, research, medicine, technology, engineering and math.  For more information, visit the school’s website at www.ossm.edu

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Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics

Immediate Release   For More Information Contact:   Lori A. Webster, Director of Public Information

405.522.7806, [email protected]

OKLAHOMA CITY – June 17, 2015 – Soorajnath Boominathan of Edmond, a recent graduate from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, has been selected as one of the four- member team to represent the United States in the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad held in the Republic of Azerbaijan July 20-29. 

In addition, Boominathan set a milestone as the youngest OSSM student chosen to attend the Chemistry Olympiad Study Camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy two years in a row.  Only 20 finalists from across the country are invited to the study camp.  In June, these 20 students competed for one of four spots on the U.S.A. traveling team and Boominathan was chosen.

The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad and the International Chemistry Olympiad are multi-tiered competitions that bring together the world’s most talented high school students to test their knowledge and skills in chemistry. Nations around the world conduct examinations to nominate the most high-performing students for the International Chemistry Olympiad.   

“Sooraj has much to celebrate as one of the top chemistry students in the nation,” said OSSM Professor of Chemistry Fazlur Rahman, Ph.D., who coaches and prepares students for many of the school’s state and national competitions.

Since 2000, eight OSSM graduates have been chosen for U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad teams.  Four of these students went on to win gold, silver and two bronze medals competing in International Chemistry Olympiads.   

OSSM serves all Oklahoma schools and students through math contests, research, teacher training and outreach activities.  More than 60 percent of the school’s graduates live and work in Oklahoma.  In addition, 85 percent of alums have careers in STEM fields that include science, research, medicine, technology, engineering and math.  For more information, visit the school’s website at www.ossm.edu

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Outlook Magazine
Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the September 2015 Issue

 For most people, chemistry is puzzling. For 16-year-old Soorajnath “Sooraj” Boominathan, “Chemistry is like a puzzle, and I enjoy solving puzzles.”

Sooraj’s problem-solving ability landed him a coveted spot on the United States team that competed in the International Chemistry Olympiad in July—where he walked away with a silver medal.

As the Olympic-sounding name suggests, Sooraj had to earn top scores in various qualifying rounds to be selected for the four-person team. Various exams tested his knowledge of chemistry, while lab simulations proved his skills at practical application, such as synthesizing compounds.

Lofty as it sounds, Sooraj doesn’t walk around spouting out formulas. He’s just a regular teen who enjoys hanging out with his friends. Nor does he claim to have had an interest in chemistry his whole life, since, as he said, “You don’t even take chemistry until high school.”

Accepted at OSSM

The tipping point for the Deer Creek student came when Sooraj was accepted into the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) for his junior and senior year. The two-year residential school, funded by the Oklahoma legislature, is free to selected students, but acceptance is highly competitive.

 “I was excited to attend, because being there meant I could take science classes I couldn’t take at a regular public school,” Sooraj said. “Instead of one basic chemistry class, I could take organic chemistry, bio-chemistry and physical chemistry.”

OSSM has sent students to the international competition before, but none in recent years. When Sooraj expressed an interest, one of his professors, Dr. Fazlur Rahman, shared his knowledge of the process and helped Sooraj work through the beginning levels of the event.

First, Sooraj took a general exam, which narrowed the field from 16,000 to 1,000 students in the United States. Further exams and lab tests narrowed the field to the top 20 students, who attended a training camp at the US Air Force Academy. Although Sooraj made it into the top 20 last year as a junior, this year, as a senior, he secured his spot as a finalist. “I’m pretty focused when I need to be, but I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d make it so far,” Sooraj said.

At The Olympiad

The 47th International Chemistry Olympiad took place at the Moscow State University in Azerbaijan, Baku. The scene of the competition was much what one would expect: an austere, modern laboratory with stainless steel work tables for the lab test, and a typical university classroom for the exam.

“Nerve-wracking” is the phrase Sooraj used to describe his feelings the week of the competition. “After working so hard, it all came down to a few hours of testing: five hours of test taking and five hours in the lab,” Sooraj said. “The lab part didn’t go too great for me because of my nerves and the time pressure. The theoretical exam was on a different day, and once I settled into the test, my heart stopped racing and my mind cleared.”

Even so, Sooraj placed 48th out of 290 students from 79 different countries. According to Sooraj, he felt enormous pressure being surrounded by so many brilliant students during the test, and yet, he enjoyed great camaraderie with them during the down times.

“The main thing I took away was that kids from around the world each have a unique culture, but we aren’t all that different. I had perceptions of what people are like from different countries—but we struggle with many of the same things.”

Sacrificing for the Silver

Despite Sooraj’s natural aptitude for chemistry, there’s no denying that his abilities came with hard work. He spent two years preparing for the competition. “I like hanging out with my friends and watching TV, but I had to cut way back and stay home to study,” Sooraj said.

He expressed appreciation for the sacrifices his parents made. His parents, who moved to Oklahoma ten years ago from India, both have a background in science. His father works in computer science and his mother is a former biology teacher.

Prior to high school, Sooraj enjoyed mathematics—but in chemistry, he found an avenue to use creative deduction, uncover clues, and experiment. As he learned about pioneers in the field of chemistry, he came to admire the way they used both logic and creativity to solve problems and invent solutions.

In the opening ceremony of the International Chemistry Olympiad, the organizers tasked the students with becoming the new pioneers by solving current mysteries of science in order to protect humanity. Sooraj isn’t sure where his path will lead, but this fall he will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 “I’d love to eventually develop cutting-edge nanotechnology products,” Sooraj said. “Will I change the world? It’s hard to say where I’m headed yet, but there are lots of options in this new field that could potentially change the world. I know I’m grateful to OSSM for preparing me to compete in the Olympiad. The experience has given me self-confidence, opened my eyes to new cultures and proved to me that hard work does pay off.”

News

Is OSSM a private school?

No, the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics is a two-year public residential high school created and funded by the Oklahoma legislature.  The school is open to all students across the state who wish to apply during their sophomore year.  OSSM is categorized as a state agency.  See the Admissions webpage for details and application deadlines. 

What is the tuition to attend OSSM?

There is no tuition for an Oklahoma resident student to attend the school.  Room and board are provided by the state.  Students may wish to have "pocket money" available for incidentals like school supplies, snack bar items or a weekend trip to a local restaurant, movie theatre, bookstore or mall.

Who can attend OSSM?

OSSM is open to all Oklahoma students who are entering their junior year of high school.  Applications are due in March of the sophomore year.  OSSM now accepts nonresident and international students for paying tuition.

What high school is the only one in Oklahoma that teaches Geoscience courses?

OSSM

How have OSSM graduates helped Oklahoma's economy?

Of the 1,400+ OSSM graduates since 1992, more than half who have completed a degree and have entered the workforce are working in Oklahoma. Ten of those have started their own businesses in our state. An independent report credits OSSM with a $40 million economic impact in Oklahoma.