As 200 eighth-graders from Ponderosa Middle School clambered out of four yellow school buses at Klamath Community College on Friday morning, they gathered in color coordinated groups to prepare for Ponderosa Gear-Up day.
Gear-Up (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal grant program from the U.S. Department of Education that aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college by providing funding to assist with educational field trips and workshops.
This is the third year that Ponderosa has received the $50,000 grant, Ponderosa Gear-Up grant coordinator Amy Hill said, which allows students to explore their options outside the classroom and be exposed to future possibilities.
“I’m excited the kids will see what they can do in college and have a different experience to the classroom,” she said.
Hill partnered with KCC Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator Jared Dill in mid-December to “brainstorm” ideas for the event, Dill said, looking to host a big event that could accommodate numerous students.
On Friday, students attended various career-technical workshops to enhance their skill sets and get a feel for college, many of them never having visited KCC prior to the field trip.
For about two and half hours, the four groups of 40 students rotated through business, health, automotive, culinary, computer engineering and diesel workshops, getting hands on with the materials provided.
Science professor Eleazar Gutierrez created numerous physics experiments. Using a piece of string tied between two posts and a strobe light, he demonstrated how light waves work and the definition of “standing waves” and “wave interference.” He also used speakers to show how sound frequency is measured in Hertz.
Chemistry professor Barbara Mann then showed students the chemical reaction between copper and nitric acid by dropping a penny into the liquid, causing the copper to oxidize and the nitric acid to reduce to nitrogen dioxide, releasing a poisonous brown gas with a strong odor.
During the course of the morning, students also learned how to make themselves a quick snack in the form of a mini pizza. Following instructions from Culinary Instructor Sean Smith inside the KCC kitchen, students rolled out their dough, added tomato marinara sauce, cheese and pepperoni. The pizzas were ready to eat within 10 minutes.
“It was like the best pizza I’ve ever had,” Emily Cordonnier, 14, said.
Aside from a week-long Gear-Up summer camp at KCC, Friday’s event was the first of its kind at the college, Dill said, but he is open to hosting similar events in the future and collaborating with other middle schools that may also receive the federal grant.
“[The Gear-Up day] will show them what we offer and studies really show that when students are on a campus, even at a young age, it can encourage them to pursue higher education later in their life,” he said.
Source: Herald and News