High School students exposed to college STEM courses

(06-25-2012)

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Pictured, right to left (front row) Miranda Sandoval, Antonito sophomore; Jade Cisneros, Centauri sophomore; Bailey Jack, Alamosa sophomore; Rebecca Drake, Moffat senior; Ryan Mathias, Moffat sophomore; Nathan Bower, Sargent junior; Indica Mestas, Centauri sophomore; (back row) Troy Fritz, Sangre de Cristo sophomore; Isaiah Garcia, Antonito junior; Mighael Ray Vigil, Sierra Grande junior; Conrad Chavez, Sierra Grande junior; Noah Trujillo, Antonito junior; Michael Mondragon, Antonito sophomore; George Sellman, Adams State assistant professor of mathematics and computer science; Donald Poole, Monte Vista sophomore; Stephanie Schatz, Adams State senior earth science major; and Brad Sosusco, Adams State junior nursing major. Not pictured, Andrew Rascon, Sierra Grande; and Adams State STEM majors Deacon Aspenwall and Reyna Reyes.

Future scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians spent a week on the Adams State University campus as part of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) grant outreach.

According to Cindy Bervig, activity director for the Title V STEM grant, 15 students from 8 San Luis Valley high schools spent the week of June 17 on campus attending classes in chemistry, biology, robotics, computer science, and geology. "The STEM Summer Academy exposed the students to STEM training not seen in the average high school classroom." She said most high schools provide adequate STEM classes, but the college has additional resources to add to the experience.

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Pictured, Miranda Sandoval, Jade Cisneros, and Indica Mestas participate in an ice-breaker the first day of classes.

Mestas, Centauri sophomore, enjoyed the chemistry classes the best. "The academy expanded on what we cover in regular high school courses."

Dr. Christy Miller, professor of chemistry, said students receive a rare opportunity to be exposed to science at the collegiate level while still in high school. "I think that the academy helped these students to see that STEM is fascinating, fun and accessible."

The courses revolved around hands-on coursework in the science laboratories and out in the field. George Sellman, assistant professor of computer sciences said he enjoyed teaching a class that did not involve the stress of testing. He worked with the students building and programming robots. "It does not matter what field you pursue, nearly every object now has a computer in it."

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Pictured, the students work together in the robotics class.

Four faculty members including Sellman, Dr. Rob Benson, professor of earth science; Dr. Christy Miller, professor of chemistry; and Dr. Kristy Duran, assistant professor of biology, with the help of four Adams State students, instructed the courses.

Miller's favorite part of the academy was hearing a "whoa" or a "cool" when performing demonstrations. "I heard it the first night and several times during lab." She even heard it from parents at the end-of-week presentation.

The students spent the entire week on campus, eating in the cafeteria and sleeping in the dorms.

Adams State student assistants, Brad Sosusco, junior nursing major, and Stephanie Schatz, senior earth science major, stayed in the dorms with the high school students. "This was an almost perfect first year," Sosusco said. He believes the academy provided a good learning experience. "The students received a taste of a typical college student's life."

Schatz said the students' exposure to a variety of STEM classes helps them appreciate many science fields. "I can't wait until next year."

Ryan Mathias, Moffat sophomore, appreciated the experience and learned a lot from all the classes.

If the students complete the course work, and choose to attend Adams State, they will receive a $500 scholarship. "Adams State has an outstanding STEM Program. Students do not have to go elsewhere to receive a quality degree," Bervig said.

The students were nominated by a teacher or counselor to participate in the STEM Academy and then applied for the coveted spots.