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Southridge explores STEM Camp

11 Southridge HS students were invited to attend STEM Exploration Camp in July. Students were selected based on recommendations from their advanced math and science teachers. They spent 4 days visiting three different technical work sites to meet professions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and to participate in hands-on activities to explore STEM careers.

The first day was spent with Kadlec Hospital. Students attended a presentation on health care careers. Students were surprised how many different career paths are open to them; besides the standard of doctor and nurse, there are specialties and a wide variety of support staff. They broke into groups and toured the Hospital and Columbia Basin College’s Richland Health Science Center. Students enjoyed trying out the practice robotic surgery machine. Then Occupational Therapist Dawn Niccum and Physical Therapist Ashley Manry spoke to the students about their professions and demonstrated some techniques and exercises. Students were surprised by how difficult small exercises used by the physical therapist were. After a break for lunch, Students received two wonderful hands-on presentations from Respiratory Therapist Edna Felix and Audiologist Dr.Curtis Woolf. It was amazing how small and ingenious hearing aids are and how audiologists can help people hear.

The second day was at Irrigation Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser. IAREC runs the State AgWeather Net System which consists of 166 weather stations across the state and growing. The weather stations update every 15 minutes. The information from the stations is available online at The students learned about each part of the weather station. Then they toured IAREC and observed a working weather station.

IAREC consist of a group of scientist and research who run the system and do research using the information from the weather stations to benefit agricultural growers and wineries. The students talked with the professors and graduate students about their research. Then students came up with and researched their own research question use the weather station data.

The third day students visited LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in Hanford. LIGO is a joint research facility supported by MIT and CalTech that as LIGO states “seeks to detect gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of spacetime. First predicted by Einstein in his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are produced by exotic events involving black holes, neutron stars and objects perhaps not yet discovered.”

Students toured the facility and got to watch controllers in the control room. Students were matched with an employee and shadowed the employee, which many said was the highlight of the day. After lunch, the students tried to model a Laser Interferometer, a very difficult task, but several group achieve the patterned waves of light indicating success.

The fourth day students invited their parents to attend a dinner and discussion with their student of what students have done during the camp. Parents enjoyed touring LIGO and learning about what their student has been up to. Parents were very enthusiastic about the experience and the opportunity of their student to be exposed to these STEM facilities.

GEAR UP Summer STEM Camp 2015

GEAR UP’s summer STEM camp started Monday, June 15th and went until Thursday, June 25th. Eight, 2 hour days were filled with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math centered activities. These activities were both fun and educational and were put together by GEAR UP tutors Sarah Garza and Erika Martinez and River View HS GEAR UP Site Manager Amandalyn Rubio.

On the first Monday, the first activity was a collection of Brain Teasers. The students had to work on different teasers with ranging difficulties. There were a couple that stumped the students but they enjoyed trying to problem solve individually and as a group. The next thing the students did was make Oobleck. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian substance made of cornstarch and water that is classified as both a solid and a liquid. The students had fun experimenting with the Oobleck.

On Tuesday, the students took part in a Paper Airplane Challenge. Some of the students found it difficult to make paper airplanes but they enjoyed testing out different designs and trying to make them fly. The second activity of the day was making slime. The slime was made out of Elmer’s glue, Liquid Starch and water, which combined chemically to make a slime substance that the students were able to play with without it sticking to them.

Wednesday, students made their own Homemade Ice-cream in a bag. The students started by adding basic ice-cream ingredients cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla into a Ziploc bag. They then added that bag into a larger Ziploc bag that was filled with ice cubes and ice- cream salt. Both bags were shaken for up to 20 minutes. The shaking caused the salt to melt the ice which dropped the temperature surrounding the ice-cream mixture, causing it to freeze. Everyone really liked this activity and said the ice-cream actually tasted really good. After the ice-cream activity the students made their own Popsicle stick catapults, using Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, spoons, and cotton balls.

Thursday, the activities were the Balloon Rocket Car Challenge and the Newspaper Challenge. The Balloon Rocket Car Challenge gave students the opportunity to make a balloon rocket car out of recycled water bottles, straws, caps, skewers and balloons. They were then able to race their cars against each other. The Newspaper challenge tested the students’ ability to build a sturdy table able to hold a large textbook out of 8 sheets of newspaper, an 8 in. by 11in. sheet of thin cardboard, and masking tape. Two students completed the semi-difficult task.

The second Monday of the camp students participated in a Math Scavenger Hunt where they had to race around the classroom while trying to; for example, find an object that measured exactly 5 inches. The second activity of the day was learning about the components of blood. Props included water beads, foam pieces, and ping pong balls as blood cells and platelets. A large cutout person made out of paper also showed the students the blood flow through the body.

Tuesday, students had the opportunity to make their own lava lamp out of recycled water bottles, water, oil, food coloring, and Alka Seltzer. The students thought the chemical reaction that made the solution look like a lava lamp was really cool. On this day students also took part in a graphing activity. They had to make a picture on graph paper using plotted points and make a rule set so their partner could make the exact same picture on a blank graph. This was an activity they had previously done in Math class.

Wednesday, students were treated to STEM Jeopardy in the Lecture Hall. This homemade Jeopardy included the classic components of Jeopardy including Double Jeopardy, Daily Doubles, and Final Jeopardy. Categories were based on STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and also included a Pop Culture category.

The last day of the camp the students competed in two challenges. In the Spaghetti Challenge student pairs were given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and one large marshmallow. The teams had 20 minutes to build the highest spaghetti tower using their given materials that they could. The only rule was the marshmallow had to be at the highest point of the tower. It was interesting to see the different approaches the students had to the challenge. The final activity was the Egg Drop. The ultimate objective for the Egg Drop Challenge is for students to build a protective casing for a raw egg so that when it is dropped from a height of 10ft it will not break. One of the main rules for the challenge was the egg had to be visible by at least a quarter sized opening and had to be able to be taken out of the contraption after the drop. The students were able to use up to 12 different types of materials and had a fun time showing their creative sides.

Overall the STEM camp was a success for the program. A total of 8 students participated during the two weeks and seemed to really enjoy all the educational activities and lessons that were put together for them.

A special thank you goes to GEAR UP Ambassador Carlos Orozco, for being a positive role model and for his leadership amongst the 8 students that attended the camp. He was an integral part of getting some of the students to attend during the two weeks and made all efforts to help GEAR UP staff with any tasks that needed to be completed.


College Place High School GEAR UP Students get dose of reality at WSECU “Reality Fair”

Over a hundred College Place High School GEAR UP Students walked into the high school gym to get a dose of life beyond high school and college. Each student was given a pamphlet which detailed their life as a post graduate. They were given a job, annual and monthly salary, benefits, budget, and a pencil. They were eagerly waiting to purchase their “needs” and “wants” for their simulated life. Awaiting the students were over 20 vendor tables with community volunteers who would serve as salesmen for a variety of life’s necessities and desires. Vendors included nearly all aspects of life’s purchases such as housing, vehicles, furniture, food, technology, entertainment, clothing, credit, and even part-time employment. Students would soon be visiting every vendor in order to purchase all of the things they need and want to begin their new fictitious life. But, there is one catch…they must stay under budget, and try to put some money in savings each month!

The students were then dispersed to go visit vendors and make their choices for life on their own. They visited every vendor table in a little over an hour and made some tough choices, some good and some not so good. Many of the vendors were experienced salesmen and were hard selling kids on the higher priced items. For example, I heard one vendor say many times to some of our male students, “I think you will have a lot better luck with the ladies if you are driving this brand new truck instead of that used Prius.”

After students had visited every vendor they needed to sit down, work out the math, and see whether or not they could live within their means based on the choices they had made. MOST STUDENTS WERE SHOCKED WHEN THEY ADDED UP ALL OF ONE TIME AND MONTHLY EXPENSES! One student said to me “I can’t live on $30,000 a year as an Art Teacher! Do teachers really make that kind of money?” Another student exclaimed, “I guess I am going to college, because I want a job where I can make enough money to not have to worry about whether or not to go out to eat!” After adding up their expenses and comparing it to their budget they sat down with a volunteer to have a one-on-one financial coaching session where they would make some changes to their choices and lifestyle in order to meet their budget requirements.

The feedback from the event was incredible. Washington State Educators Credit Union was able to create a simulation in which 100% of our student population was engaged with 100% of those students learning at least one important lesson about life beyond high school and college. Thank you to the staff from WSECU and all of our Community Volunteers!

Finley GEAR UP Explores 4-H Teen Conference 2015

While students arrived to Gannon and Goldsworthy dorms to register and check in on Sunday afternoon, on June 28th,they all were very excited to start the festivities. They talked with their new friends and waited to head up to their dorm rooms. After settling in their rooms, students went out and explored the Washington State University campus with their adult GEAR UP supervisor. Some students went to the rec center to jump in the pool, play volleyball, or do some exercise. Exploring the WSU campus was very rewarding for the students because they got to become familiar with the campus while also having fun with their new acquaintances.

As students transitioned from a little free time, all students were directed to Thompson Flats to have a large barbeque. Shortly after having dinner, the students sat on the grass and had a motivational speaker, Carlos Ojera Jr. talk about how important youth empowerment is and how students need to be their own voice. It was very clear that students made at least one connection with Carlos because they all raved about him. Carlos touched all students and adults when he revealed that he is deaf but has overcome the struggle he had with his disability as he was growing up.

As the adult supervisors made their way to their orientation meeting, students stayed with the 4-H conference leaders and participated in all sorts of group challenges and ice breakers. After the sun set, students and their adult supervisors all made their way to their dorm rooms and called it a day.

Early Monday morning, some students went for a run or participated in exercise activities. After this, students gathered for breakfast at Southside Dining Hall. From breakfast, all students broke off and walked to their assigned workshops. An interesting workshop was the Handwriting Workshop that focused on teaching students lost workplace skills. At this workshop students got to learn about the two different writing types of print, which are D’Nealian and Standard print. Students practiced these styles by writing in both. Other workshops included student’s definition of citizenship and also about the connection 4-H has with Burundi. This workshop included some team building skills by having the whole group hold a bed sheet as tight as possible and then have a ball, which represents the globe, roll around without falling off the bed sheet. The catch was that slowly people started to let go of the bed sheet which represented people dying off, and in result made students realize that without teamwork and the people in our world it would be very difficult for the world to function. This workshop also informed students that WSU 4-H is raising money and awareness to give back to Burundi sister schools because of their current financial situation.

Once students finished their last workshop they made their way back to their dorm rooms to get dressed for the evening banquet that was held at the Schweitzer Building. Students were presented with a fancy dinner that was paired with a guest speaker who spoke about different ways of preparing oneself for college and the future. Following the banquet, students were bused back to campus and some got to listen to another speaker, Tyler S. who spoke about his tragic car accident due to reckless speeding while others played games and participated in craft activities with other students.

On the last day of the 4-H Teen Conference, students enjoyed a nice buffet style breakfast and then walked over to the CUB building. There, students were spilt up into two big groups, one attended the Career and Education Fair at the CUB Ballroom and the other group traveled to the CUE Building and participated in the Who Wants To Be a Credit Card Millionaire Financial Literacy Workshop. This workshop taught students about the different terminology in the credit world. Students got to play Who Wants To Be a Millionaire with questions that were related to credit.

After students got to talk to different universities and companies at the Career and Education Fair, they were sat down for a conference closing. Guest speaker, Carlos Ojera Jr. spoke about losing his father so abruptly and how that tragic event made him realize that he regretted not doing more with his father before he lost him. He told students that they needed to tell their family or whomever they are close with, that they love them because they need to know that. It was an emotional speech but also an impactful one because students were able to connect with Carlos. Following the speaker, students were given their Ignite Your Future t-shirts and were instructed to write what ignites their futures inside the flame that was printed on the back of the shirt. After that, students were given the opportunity to sign each other’s t-shirts and then they were saluted with a goodbye from all the camp leaders and director Jan Klein and encouraged them to come back again next year.

Thanks to River View High School GEAR UP, 4-H Teen Conference, River View High School Principal, Bryan Long, and everyone else who allowed these students to experience this Teen Conference. These students had a great time at the 4-H Teen Conference up in Pullman. Irene Cuevas specifically said, “All the workshops were my favorite part of the conference and also my roommate.” Another Finley 4-H camper, Andres Flores said “My favorite workshop was workshop A (Combat Challenge).” Andres also mentioned that before he attended the 4-H Teen Conference he was set on joining the Military after high school but because of the conference he was introduced to another career option which is becoming a firefighter. These students were glad they got to experience such a wonderful exposure to college life and said they really enjoyed the 4-H Teen Conference.

Teen Conference 2015 "Ignite Your Future"

On June 28, a group of Columbia High School students participated in the Teen Conference 2015 in Pullman Washington. They were Isaac Garcia, Weston Gordon, Lexus Shepard, Jasmine Marquez, Cable Schroder, and Anna Tolrud. They were able to join in with 400 other 4-H students in different workshops. One of the workshops was Examine the Evidence where students discovered what it is like in a real crime lab and explored the expanding fields of forensic science. Another workshop was A day in the Life of a Vet. Here students spent two hours observing small and large animals and learning the things it takes if they are interested in a career in veterinary medicine. In the next class Combat Challenge, students learned the physical requirements of being a firefighter and saw if they were up for the job. In the last workshop How to Land a Job, the group was told who was hiring youth and professionals. A panel of local employers shared ideas with them as to what they are looking for when hiring. After many hours of 108 degree weather the students were happy to go home and rest.

Clarkston High School’s GEAR UP Success Story, Logan Heflin

Clarkston High School student, Logan Heflin, is an exceptional example of youth leadership and hard work. Whether it’s in the classroom or on the playing field, Logan provides the grit, determination, intelligence, and leadership to excel and promote success. He is a 4.0 student and three-sport athlete. In addition, Logan is a member of the high school JROTC program, Asotin County Youth Commission, and Link Crew.

When not studying in GEAR UP or working out in the gym, Logan is heavily involved in providing time and effort to community service projects throughout the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. He has logged an impressive 80 hours to the community. According to Logan, by providing his service he will “become a better citizen and develop critical life skills that will help me be a successful person.”

Currently, Logan has career interests in sports nutrition and athletic training. He is also considering architecture as a possibility. His number one college choice is Duke University.

Above all else, Logan is an amazingly positive and friendly person. He is the most pleasant student to come across in the school hallways. He always has a smile and hello for his fellow students and school staff.

There is no doubt that where ever Logan goes and whatever he pursues in life, he will be a success. Congratulations, Logan! You are an extraordinary young man and a great example to all students.

Sun’s Out Books Out

June was one of the quieter months at Prosser High with the kids being gone for the summer but the GEAR UP staff at PHS has been busy working on the upcoming school year.

During the last week of school students were busy finishing up any final work that was permitted by their teachers in order for them to get their grades up. Freshman cohort students were particularly eager to pass all of their classes especially math. Our tutors were kept extra busy during this time answering any questions that students had and refreshing their memory about past chapters and concepts.

Summer credit retrieval through the APEX program began on June 9th. Out of the 150 students enrolled in APEX, about half are cohort students. This summer, GEAR UP has offered to help out with this program by providing an open lab for students to come in and use the computers to complete their work and get help from our tutor if they need it. We have made this resource available for students because sometimes they don’t have access to a computer at home and we want to ensure that they are able to use this resource to their advantage.

Coming up at the end of the month is the 4-H Leadership Conference held at WSU Pullman.  This year will be our second year taking cohort students and they are very eager to attend. For many of the students going, this will be their second time and they have not stopped talking about it throughout the whole school year. GEAR UP looks forward to this trip and is eager to hear about the students’ experiences.

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