GAINING EARLY AWARENESS AND READINESS FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS (GEAR UP)

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Student and Teachers Enjoying Research at Garrison Middle School

Dead silence, the teacher and I looked at each other half in surprise and half in part to confirm that every student in class was engaged in research. Not often do you see middle school students who have just been assigned a research project, all on task and focused so deeply that you could hear a pin drop. Yet, this was the case at Garrison Middle School in many of the 8th grade classrooms just minutes after students were presented with their career research project. All of the 8th grade Language Arts classrooms were assigned the task of researching and creating a presentation, which could earn them a spot to compete in the annual GEAR UP Career Showcase held at WSU Tri-Cities.

Student excitement rose as the research began with the chance to utilize the GEAR UP Ipad cart.  We had them start by taking a career interest survey that would match their personal interests with careers on WOIS.org (Washington Occupational Informational System), before moving on to the exploration of occupations.  After they narrowed their career choices down to two, the actual research process began.  Learning how to research will be a critical skillset needed to be successful throughout their academic and professional careers.  Students were walked through the research process, which we began by exploring what resources were available to them and how to best utilize them efficiently.  This process was hard to comprehend for some students whose instincts were to start PowerPoint or Prezi before the research had begun.  The research that took place once they focused in and processed their task was amazing as the opportunity to work with something they felt was relative made their own personal investment in the assignment.

Overall about 15 students were given the opportunity to present their career for the opportunity to advance to the Career Showcase at WSU Tri-Cities. Kyle Marr ultimately was chosen to represent Garrison Middle School of Walla Walla in the 2014 Career Showcase, with an eloquent career presentation on his aspiration of becoming an automotive engineer. Kyle and his peers in the 8th grade at Garrison each had a week or more to prepare a five minute Prezi or PowerPoint presentation around a career of their choice after their research took place. Kyle spent a lot of time researching his career, even delving into European companies and Universities. His mother joined him for the trip to WSU Tri-Cities and couldn’t have been more proud seeing him stand up in the auditorium and give his presentation. Although, Kyle did not earn the top prize for his performance he did walk away with a TI graphing calculator as well as respect and admiration from Garrison Middle School staff and students. This was an impactful experience for Kyle and his family, as well as all of the students at Garrison who now have a better grasp on how to properly conduct research.

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WSU Early Outreach