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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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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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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From exploring digital forensics to deciphering secret computer codes to testing chemical reactions to examining the difference between human and animal bones, Bloomsburg University’s Math and Science Summer Experience recently opened several impressionable eyes on campus.

More than 50 local middle and high school students participated in the week-long camp, where they got a taste of digital forensics, computer science, human and biological forensics.

The annual camp - hosted by the College of Science and Technology - is designed to broaden the participants’ interest in math and science, along with enhancing their skills and understanding to bridge the summer break gap. Their classroom exploration included hands-on labs and exercises, presentations and demonstrations. 

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Bloomsburg University’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Center (TALE) recently coordinated a two-day workshop on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), which is the study of teaching and learning and the communication of findings so that a body of knowledge can be established.

The workshop featured nationally recognized speakers and facilitators on the subject of SoTL. According to Beth Dietz-Uhler and Cathy Bishop-Clark, the benefits in engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, include:

  • The development of a “more powerful framework with which to think about teaching and [our] students’ learning.”
  • We are more likely “to start questioning [our] assumptions about poor performance in [our] classes.”
  • “Being informed by SoTL provide[s] more examples and ideas to try in one’s own classroom.”
  • “We have a responsibility as educators to contribute to the body of knowledge about effective teaching.”
  • We can turn our classroom and teaching into a high quality, publishable research projects and presentations that promotes dialogue about teaching and learning.

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From courses in human biology to object-oriented Java programming to calculus, Bloomsburg University College of Science and Technology’s first-ever Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Magnet program recently 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.

Recognizing the growing need for college graduates in science, health science, technology, engineering and mathematics, BU established a regional math and science education center last summer to address this need through a wide range of programming focused on:

  • STEM pipeline development (K-12)
  • professional development of teachers in collaboration with regional districts
  • cutting-edge research in STEM education
  • innovative college programs based on proven pedagogies that produce graduates prepared for success in the STEM fields

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Along with Karl Kapp, professor of instructional technology, six instructional technology graduate students recently attended and networked at the ASTD 2014 International Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

There the students were able to meet several leaders from the instructional technology field, as well as join more than 9,000 colleagues from around the world in sharing best practices and insights.

Industry Leaders Students Met

  • Tony Bingham, CEO of The Association for Talent Development
  • Anders Gronstedt, president of the Gronstedt Group
  • Richard Sites and Angel Green, of Allen Interactions and authors of ” Leaving ADDIE for SAM Field Guide”
  • Elaine Biech, editor of the ASTD Handbook

In addition, the students were able to learn the most current and future trends of their future career field, how to apply them on the job and get results - straight from the many world-renowned thought leaders and industry luminaries.

Those attending were Ralph Hinkle, Lynnette Eichenlaub, Theresa Jacques, Michael Grube, Lauren Coffey and Luis Rivera.

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Carbon dioxide is often considered a by-product of fossil fuel consumption — and not a useful one, either. But what if carbon dioxide could be turned into something useful or even an energy source? Jocelyn Legere, a junior chemistry major, will be working on a project at Yale University this summer to do just that.

Legere, who is concentrating on nanotechnology, will conduct group research on catalysts and their effectiveness in converting carbon dioxide into useful material as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program at Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for eight weeks starting later this month. The summer program will focus on graduate-level research and methods of professional research.

Taking part in a capstone experience through Bloomsburg at Penn State University, she is receiving full training for processes and tools in nanofabrication technology manufacturing.

Legere intends to continue her work in nanotechnology to develop ways to “decrease the harmful effects everyday products have on the environment.” Using her experience and training, she hopes to make her mark in the scientific world by combining green chemistry and nanotechnology to reduce the environmental impact on today’s society.

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