To send a son or daughter away for any amount of time can be difficult for parents, and likewise for the kids if they are prone to homesickness, but if its possible it is 100% worth it. I spent six weeks after school was out at Trio Upward Bound Math Science in the University of Maine, and I feel better not only as a student scholar but as a human being.
A normal day would start out with us waking up anywhere from 5 (for the crazies that went jogging or swimming in the morning) to 7, showering then eating breakfast. From here we would leave our building on campus around 8, and either attend our 3 classes which we had a hand in signing up for, OR work on our group project. The group project’s focus changed annually and is always for the betterment of society, this past year it was sustainability and with this my group designed a dam that would generate electricity while allowing the passage of fish. After the first half of the day we would have lunch at Hilltop, the fantastic universities buffet cafeteria. Once we had gotten our fill we would go on to attend a community meeting at 12:40 and talk about the remainder of the day, give pats to each other for nice doings (sappy yet necessary), and talk about other miscellaneous things.
With the first part of the day down it starts to get really interesting. Right after lunch we go to our individual project mentor and work on our six-week long project/paper/baby, the indy project was the staple to life at Upward Bound Math Science and garnered the greatest feeling of accomplishment after the program. For my project I chose an economics mentor who helped me write a 14 page beast on Maine’s Economy, showed me the ropes of economics programs and theories, and helped calm my sometimes pugnacious nature. The mentors are more than just textbooks, they are really invested in your success and give you loads of advice for college. For the rest of they day, after indy projects you had an amalgam of dinner, free time and…. Workshops! Workshops were loved by all and hated by none, they included going to the universities Rec center, among other staff hosted activities, but the Rec center was really the heavy hitter. I don’t know if you’ve been the UMO’s Rec center but its fun, and not just your everyday I’ll go for a jog and lift some weights fun, its volleyball in a whirlpool, hitting up the upstairs suspended-in-air track, challenging strangers to tennis death matches fun. There were simply too many things to do at the Rec center.
Back to academia, after all is said and done and the projects are completed, we showcase our indy projects at the STEM Symposium. Here we give one on one presentations to judges, who the do as their name suggests and give us scores based on the poster’s appearance and presentation skills. Afterwards there is an awards ceremony for best poster, best presentation and best overall (highly coveted by us students).
With the program nearing an end the benefits of attending truly became apparent. First we were able to socialize with high-caliber students for six weeks, forcing growth in collegiate social skills. Then we got to create a bona-fide scientific paper and poster with our individual project which you just know colleges are going to love. Coupled with the indy project was the group project, it gave similar benefits to the indy but demanded group cohesion, growing our group working skills exponentially. Finally we all just became better people. Somewhere along the way it happened, be it from the college atmosphere, living with 35 other teenagers or the community service we did at the local farm, it definitely happened.
And for the cost of all of this… We were granted $500!
My individual project talked about in this post. It used a couple economic programs like Excel and Eviews to look at Maine’s composition by employment sector and economic indicators I.E how lobster prices, home values, energy prices, potato production, tourism employment affect Maine’s economy.