From team-building exercises with horses to an engaging drug and alcohol panel discussion with local court officials to a children’s activities fair with the community, it was another busy and productive summer for Bloomsburg University’s TRiO Upward Bound Program. It was also a summer of celebration, marking the 50th anniversary of the federal grant program and its 37th year on campus. Since 1965, Upward Bound has grown from 17 initial programs with 2,061 participants to today featuring 964 funded programs working with more than 80,000 students.

Upward Bound is a national program funded through the Department of Education that more than doubles the chances of first-generation students graduating college. Locally, the BU program serves students from Berwick, Mahony, Milton, Mount Carmel, North Schuylkill, Pottsville, Shamokin and Shikellamy high schools. 

The program – with the help of a mentoring and support staff of Bloomsburg University students – provides a wide range of services to prepare its participants to succeed in college. They include weekly tutoring, test preparation, college application and financial aid form assistance, cultural enrichment programs, field trips and a summer academic program.

Among the highlights of the 2014 Summer STEM Academy were:

  • a drug and alcohol panel featuring Columbia County Judge Thomas James and other county court officials
  • team-building exercises at Willow Creek Farms in Numidia
  • a STEM Activities Fair at McBride Memorial Library in Berwick
  • a Family Movie fundraiser with the Berwick Theater
  • an interactive workshop with The Actor’s Company Theatre
  • several site visits and campus tours of universities across the region.

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Representatives of PPL Corporation and affiliates were on campus recently to present a check for $20,000 to provide continuing support for the STEM Magnet program. The company has played an integral part in the formation of the collaborative effort between Bloomsburg University, eight school districts and regional businesses and foundations to serve local high school students in advancing in the science, math, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
PPL leaders provide input on the development of the curriculum and serve as mentors to students in the program in addition to the financial commitment. Pictured (L-R) Michael Munroe, plant manager, PPL Montour; Elizabeth Mauch, dean of the College of Education; Teri MacBride, PPL regional affairs director, Susquehanna Valley; and David L. Soltz, BU president.
From courses in human biology to object-oriented Java programming to calculus, College of Science and Technology’s first-ever Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Magnet program capped its initial year without a hitch. Roughly 40 students from Berwick, Bloomsburg and Central Columbia school districts got a taste of higher education while earning college credits by completing STEM courses on campus this past fall and spring semesters. The program will grow next year, adding students from Benton, Danville, Millville and Southern Columbia school districts, along with Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School.

Representatives of PPL Corporation and affiliates were on campus recently to present a check for $20,000 to provide continuing support for the STEM Magnet program. The company has played an integral part in the formation of the collaborative effort between Bloomsburg University, eight school districts and regional businesses and foundations to serve local high school students in advancing in the science, math, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

PPL leaders provide input on the development of the curriculum and serve as mentors to students in the program in addition to the financial commitment. Pictured (L-R) Michael Munroe, plant manager, PPL Montour; Elizabeth Mauch, dean of the College of Education; Teri MacBride, PPL regional affairs director, Susquehanna Valley; and David L. Soltz, BU president.

From courses in human biology to object-oriented Java programming to calculus, College of Science and Technology’s first-ever Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Magnet program capped its initial year without a hitch. Roughly 40 students from Berwick, Bloomsburg and Central Columbia school districts got a taste of higher education while earning college credits by completing STEM courses on campus this past fall and spring semesters. The program will grow next year, adding students from Benton, Danville, Millville and Southern Columbia school districts, along with Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School.

SenseOfCommunity STEM

Bloomsburg University’s new Sustainable Food Systems Outdoor Classroom recently got its first group of visitors when several Quest adventure campers stopped for a picnic, where the youngsters enjoyed freshly cut kohlrabi sticks and freshly squeezed kale orange juice.

The outdoor classroom, one of five projects awarded a Presidential Strategic Planning Grant last year, will be a working garden and sustainability education center run primarily by student workers and interns. Located behind Monty’s on upper campus, the outdoor classroom was designed in collaboration with students who also helped build the gardens this past spring.

Currently, there are two students helping John Hintz and Sandra Kehoe-Forutan, professors of environmental, geographical and geological sciences, care for the gardens over the summer. There are 30 raised beds filled with vegetables and herbs. There will be a third student starting work in July on the perennial garden.

The completed outdoor classroom will feature walking paths between well-tended raised garden beds, interactive interpretive signage, a solar greenhouse, a composting site, a rain garden, perennial plants and birdhouses around the periphery, and a seating area and educational kiosk.

Coursework, educational workshops, internships, professional development opportunities, and volunteer opportunities at the outdoor classroom will provide high impact practices new to our university. The outdoor classroom will provide a state-of-the-art showpiece of sustainable food production that helps prepare students to be confident, knowledgeable, engaged, and productive citizens.

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Mariam Sarkessian, a management major, recently completed a two-week job shadow with Comcast’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia through Bloomsburg University’s Sophomore Experiential Learning (SEL) Program.
The program, designed to give students an opportunity to see their potential career field first-hand, enabled Sarkessian to witness the daily activity of the country’s largest cable company and Internet service provider. Sarkessian described her experience as enlightening and richly memorable.
“Seeing daily activity at the headquarters has helped me confirm that I’d like to work at a large company that has a powerful role in the world,” Sarkessian says. “I’ve gained useful insight about how to level-handedly deal with problems and make decisions with customers and the company in mind.”
In addition to a possible internship opportunity, Sarkessian says her SEL experience provided her with many more business contacts. She also may have discovered a new career track.
“Being able to help out with (the Lab Week project) even though I was just shadowing was an exciting experience and opened my mind in looking for ways to make processes more efficient,” Sarkessian says. “Most importantly, … I had not known that project managing could be a career. Now I’m eager to pursue and get the right qualifications for it.”
Sarkessian shadowed Ted Hodgins, Class of 1989, senior director of technology and product: customer service.

Mariam Sarkessian, a management major, recently completed a two-week job shadow with Comcast’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia through Bloomsburg University’s Sophomore Experiential Learning (SEL) Program.

The program, designed to give students an opportunity to see their potential career field first-hand, enabled Sarkessian to witness the daily activity of the country’s largest cable company and Internet service provider. Sarkessian described her experience as enlightening and richly memorable.

“Seeing daily activity at the headquarters has helped me confirm that I’d like to work at a large company that has a powerful role in the world,” Sarkessian says. “I’ve gained useful insight about how to level-handedly deal with problems and make decisions with customers and the company in mind.”

In addition to a possible internship opportunity, Sarkessian says her SEL experience provided her with many more business contacts. She also may have discovered a new career track.

“Being able to help out with (the Lab Week project) even though I was just shadowing was an exciting experience and opened my mind in looking for ways to make processes more efficient,” Sarkessian says. “Most importantly, … I had not known that project managing could be a career. Now I’m eager to pursue and get the right qualifications for it.”

Sarkessian shadowed Ted Hodgins, Class of 1989, senior director of technology and product: customer service.

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To kick off the summer a group of students from Bloomsburg University’s Department of Environmental, Geographical, and Geological Sciences spent three weeks in California's Mojave Desert. The adventurous learning experience was a part of the department’s new Special Topics in Field Geology course — designed to give students an opportunity to observe a wide variety of earth processes, apply their knowledge and reinforce skills in geological observation and interpretation. 

By participating in this intense, field-based course, 13 students got a first-hand encounter with the geology and environmental issues of the western United States. Led by faculty Chris Whisner, Jennifer Whisner and Cynthia Venn, the group roughed it at rustic campsites, grilled trout caught in mountain streams, worked on field notebooks until late in the evening and endured rain, snow, hail and 116-degree heat.

At the same time, the group said it marveled at the mining impacts, stunning geology, and complex water resource issues they encountered on their 1,800-mile trek.  

Each student had opportunities to show off their knowledge through lecturing at two stops, while faculty displayed the accompanying posters. Other highlights:

  • several sites at Mono Lake, Owen’s Lake, LA Aqueduct, Hoover Dam, Ash Meadows showcased many of the ideas students studied in Water Resources Management and Ground Hydrology
  • students were assigned to sketch an unfamiliar landscape and identify as many features as they could, based on the trip. Most students were able to pick out most of the features (fault scarps and fault-block mountains, volcanoes, alluvial fans, stream-carved valleys, springs, glacial features, intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks, and sedimentary rocks) from their viewpoint across the valley.

According to Jennifer Whisner, up until that point the student didn’t really realize how much they had learned in the week or so they’d been out there!

In their final synthesis paper, nearly every student noted that actually seeing mile-high mountains, volcanoes, earthquake scars, picturesque landscapes carved by alpine glaciers and rushing water, and irrigation in one of the most water-starved parts of the U.S. helped them better understand concepts they had discussed in class, and better grasp the scale of features they had seen only in textbook diagrams.

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