Wacker proposes rigorous chemistry classes for Ooltewah, Soddy Daisy and Walker Valley high schools

Wacker proposes rigorous chemistry classes for Ooltewah, Soddy Daisy and Walker Valley high schools

February 11th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Instructor David Reynolds talks to visitors in the mechanical engineering lab at grand opening ceremonies Wednesday for the new Wacker Institute at Chattanooga State Community College.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Wacker Chemical is teaming with three area high schools to boost the studies of future chemists.

For a select number of students, the Wacker Institute School of Chemical Science is working through Chattanooga State Technical Community College to bring courses to Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy in Hamilton County and Walker Valley in Bradley County.

The schools were chosen for their proximity to the Wacker site in Charleston, Tenn., and also on student interest.

Arlette Robinson, career technical education director for Bradley County Schools, described the advanced courses Thursday evening to the Bradley school board. She said the classes are only a proposal and some details are still being worked out.

Most of the classes are dual enrollment, meaning students earn college credit while still in high school.

"Students will interact with industry professionals through an ongoing mentoring partnership with Wacker Polysilicon North America while continuing to receive academic preparation in a real world, experiential learning environment," according to the Wacker mission statement.

Students who complete the entire program -- 17 credit hours -- can enter Chattanooga State as a second-semester freshman in the chemical engineering technology program.

Among the courses being considered are a drafting and design class for ninth and 10th grades, which are already offered at Bradley Central High School as well as Walker Valley. Two courses in chemistry and math for 11th-graders, will be provided through Cleveland State Community College. An engineering technology class for juniors and seniors, will be taught at Walker Valley with either a Walker Valley teacher or a Chattanooga State instructor.

The final course, chemical technology, is only offered at Chattanooga State by the Wacker Institute. Students must provide their own transportation.

There would be 15 students from each high school in the chemical technology class.

The classes are open to any students, Robinson said, but those chosen for the institute's final chemistry technology class will be paid by Wacker. After graduation, the students would be eligible for scholarships, internships, even a student exchange program in German, she said.

Bradley School Board members were enthusiastic, but such questions as: Who chooses those 15 students? Will Bradley Central students have a chance at the program?

Hamilton and Bradley County students enrolled at other schools and interested in the chemical technology class could be arranged, Robinson said.

"My concern was, if we have students at Bradley [Central] with the grades and the desire to excel, what opportunity would they have to be one of those 15 or be treated like one of those 15?" asked board member Troy Weathers.

Dual enrollment classes are available to all, Robinson said, and there are competitive scholarships available through Chattanooga State.