Upward Bound focuses on hands-on learning

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Upward Bound students participated in team building and camaraderie activities in the Upward Bound Olympics Wednesday at Ned Houk Park as one of the final activities of the program’s Summer-on-Campus program.

Liliana Castillo

Space exploration, bridge building, crime scene analysis and lotion making were just some of the projects the TRiO Upward Bound students participated in during the summer program focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

TRiO Upward Bound at Clovis Community College is a federally-funded program that provides high school students with educational opportunities designed to prepare them for higher education.

The program runs throughout the school year, focusing on one-on-one tutoring and monthly academic seminars and activities. The summer program focuses more on learning what college is like as a way to encourage students to continue their education after high school.

The Summer-on-Campus Experience is made up of six weeks of activity at CCC. This year’s summer program focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, for the first time, according to program Director Ashly Baccas.

The 25 teens who participated in this year’s program were divided into four teams. The teams and their projects were:

• Galactic Explorers — space exploration, NASA, solar system, the moon and gravity, airplane aerodynamics and water bottle rockets.

• Engineering — building bridges that are very resistant out of toothpicks, Q-tips, popsicle sticks, balsa wood etc.

• Medical and forensics — students were certified in CPR, they were trained in first aid, they are doing crime scene analysis and forensics with introduction to genetics, including gathering their own DNA.

• Marketing team — students created different kinds of lotions and applied marketing concepts: Branding, logo, commercial, T-shirt design, etc.

“Within each team, there was a focus on STEM as well as some English composition,” Baccas said. “There has been a big push nationally to get Americans involved in STEM and that starts with getting kids involved.”

Baccas said students met in four hour classes Monday through Wednesday and took field trips and college campus visits on Thursdays and Fridays.

Laura DaVinci, the program’s academic services coordinator, said the summer program focuses on hands-on and interactive projects and activities.

“In school, the kids don’t get to do a lot of hands on or practical experience,” DaVinci said. “We hope this motivates and interests the students to become involved in STEM related fields. Even if they don’t, at least they know what it is.”

Clovis resident Tim Chavez has graduated from the Upward Bound program and is now in the next stage of the program called Bridge. Chavez said he helps out with Upward Bound whenever he can because he knows the benefits and said they’re important.

“It builds a lot of self confidence,” he said. “The program builds any kind of skills and thought processes you need to go to and get though college.”

Chavez, 18, said the program introduces students to the idea of life-long learning.

“These are the kinds of things you’re going to use for the rest of your life,” he said.

Chavez said the first year he was in the program, the group lived in an Eastern New Mexico University dorm for two weeks and were taught what college felt like and how to take care of themselves.

“There’s a lot about college life,” he said.

Upward Bound student Makaylia Aragon, 17, has been in the program for three years. She said the program provides fun ways to learn.

In previous years, the students had more, shorter classes and she said she preferred the four-hour classes because she learned more. Her favorite project was making lotion.

“Ours didn’t turn out quite right but it was cool,” she said.

The program wraps up this week with the STEM Exploration Fair. Students will display the projects from the previous five weeks.

The fair is from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. today in the Town Hall and Eula Mae Edwards Museum at CCC and is free and open to the public.

To be eligible for the TRiO Upward Bound program, students must:

• Be in ninth grade at the CHS Freshman Campus or tenth grade at Clovis High School.

• Come from a family in which neither parent has graduated from a four-year college and/or meets the low-income criteria mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.

• Selection is also based on academic need for UB services, recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors and a personal interview.

• Have a desire to go to college after high school graduation.

Source: CCC TRiO Upward Bound website