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August 22, 2006

Summer Enrichment: UCSD Upward Bound Programs
Help Future College Students ‘Reach for the Stars’

By Michael Dabney

While many students were enjoying a typical summer vacation this year, 103 high school participants in the University of California, San Diego’s Upward Bound Math & Science, and Upward Bound Classic programs were exploring the exciting world of astronomy, crime and accident scene investigation, and scientific inquiry in laboratories at UCSD and Grossmont College.

During a combined five-week summer session, college-bound high school students from the two programs lived on the UCSD campus while participating in a challenging curriculum of math, science, English composition, Spanish and research library skill enhancement – all designed to give them a head start on the next school year and preparation for college.

Chantal Alcantara, an Upward Bound Classic member who will be a junior this fall at Mar Vista High School in San Diego County, especially liked the summer session’s day-long forensic science visit at Grossmont College where she and fellow students got to apply skills in mathematics and science in analyzing mock crime and accident scenes and studying the science of fingerprinting. “Allowing us to use math and science in a practical way really helps and is a great way to prepare for college,” says Alcantara, who plans to enter medical school after college.

Eric Mar, an incoming senior at Calipatria High in Imperial County where he participates in UCSD’s Upward Bound Math & Science Program, agrees: “It’s almost like summer camp for college…This is my fourth summer participating in the program and it’s helping me realize what college is all about, including what it will take for me to major in marine biology.”

Both the Upward Bound Classic, and the Upward Bound Math & Science initiatives at UCSD play an important role in providing year-round college preparatory enrichment for low-income high school students or those who will be the first in their families to attend college. The summer component allows even more focus on these goals as students spend an intensive five-day-per week period under the tutelage of instructors at UCSD and elsewhere.

Using a Slinky toy, Upward Bound high school students learn how to measure light wave lengths during an astronomy and physics session this summer at UCSD.

Established at UCSD in 1999, Upward Bound Math & Science works specifically with students having an interest in pursuing math, science, computer science and engineering as a college major and career. The program serves a total of 50 students at San Diego County’s Clairemont High, El Cajon Valley High, Castle Park High, and Mont Vista High, and at Brawley Union High, Calipatria High and Central High in Imperial County.

Upward Bound Classic was introduced in 1980 with the goal of increasing the rate at which participants enroll and graduate from post-secondary educational institutions. It serves 80 students in five San Diego County schools: Mar Vista High, Chula Vista High, Sweetwater High, Hoover High,
and San Diego High.

Both programs are part of UCSD’s TRIO Outreach initiatives in the Student Educational Advancement division under Student Affairs.

Says Karen Dubey, director, Upward Bound Math & Science Program: “We especially didn’t want the summer session to be another version of high school summer school that teaches remedial material that students did not master last school year. For instance, this summer in math, the students took the course that they will be enrolled in for this coming fall.” As a result, she says, this should prepare them for a good start when they start back to class in September and help them avoid falling behind.

Another focus this summer was preparing students for the SAT/ACT college exams, Dubey adds, especially relating to math and English. “For example, all English students were give an ACT English writing prompt during the first, third and fifth week of the program, and we followed up with writing instruction in between to measure their progress.”

But again, what students seem to like most about the summer program is the opportunity it gives them to apply learned skills in “hands-on” experiences.
In an astronomy class exercise, Eric Tanori and Aniruddh Bose-Raut, both incoming juniors at Clairemont High in San Diego County, work with other team members in using a Slinky to learn how to measure light wave frequency and amplitude.

Tanori plans to major in physics or aerospace engineering in college, while Bose-Raut has his eye astronomy or astro-chemistry. “Needless to say, we really liked the astronomy class the best,” says Tanori with a grin.

Media Contact: Michael Dabney, (858) 822-0566


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