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home : news : news December 15, 2019

10/7/2019 12:25:00 PM
STEM Focus Of Upward Bound Summer Academy
Student Trevon Maddox analyzes the amount of dyes in a mystery lollipop by comparing the ingredients to other known flavors provided in the experiment.(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)
Student Trevon Maddox analyzes the
amount of dyes in a mystery lollipop by
comparing the ingredients to other known
flavors provided in the experiment.

(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)

Lincoln Herald Staff

DALLAS, N.C. - You can’t underestimate the importance of STEM.

A greater knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics can be the key to a better future. Master these disciplines, and you can write your own ticket.

And no one understands that better than Gaston College. According to spokeswoman Stephanie Michael Pickett, the college’s recent Upward Bound Summer Academy program focused on STEM. Its BioNetwork STEM Outreach program on the college’s Dallas Campus helped some 60 students from Hunter Huss and Bessemer City High Schools learn more about these subjects, forge friendships and enhance their academic capabilities.

Pickett informed that the BioNetwork program encourages students to pursue STEM careers.

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And the Upward Bound program provided interactive hands-on activities for participants, including the following:

  • ”What’s the Flavor?” In this, students used spectrophotometers to analyze the amount of dyes in a sample mystery lollipop and compare it to other known flavors within the same bag.

  • In the “Super Sleuth Sampler,” students analyzed evidence to solve a crime. Beginner sleuths progressed through a series of stations, such as microscopy, blood typing, blood spatter analysis, white powder identification, dental impressions, chromatography and fiber identification. Advanced sleuths focused efforts on immunoassays (detecting proteins) and gel electrophoresis (molecular separation).

  • “Pig-uliar” had participants dealing with zoonosis, an animal disease communicable to humans and increasingly a global public health concern. The students were introduced to a swine influenza outbreak and its potential dangers for humans, and they performed electrophoresis of simulated PCR (polymerase chain reaction) samples in an effort to develop a rapid testing methodology to identify the potential epidemic.

  • And in “Missy Baker Is Missing,” students helped police solve a crime mystery by matching forensic DNA samples to a missing person’s genetic material. Real-world applications of molecular biology were highlighted.

In addition to these STEM activities, Upward Bound Summer Academy participants also attended a rigorous six-week academic program with a focus on ensuring academic success in the 2019-20 school year.

The United States Department of Education considers college preparation and exposure as a top goal for the Upward Bound participants. Rising seniors in the Upward Bound Summer Academy participated in a two-week senior seminar focused on preparing them for enrollment and entrance into college. The first week concentrated on developing and completing the students’ personal statements and essays. During the second week, students participated in workshops and sessions, including SAT/ACT preparation; mock interviews; CFNC (College Foundation of North Carolina) college admissions and selections processes; résumé development; scholarships; and more.

Students also met with admissions counselors from the universities of Charlotte and Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Appalachian state universities and Belmont Abbey and Gaston colleges. They enjoyed a three-day trip to Raleigh, where they toured Duke, Peace and N.C. State universities and participated in other activities in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Upward Bound is one of the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO programs, which are designed to identify and provide services for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Upward Bound provides support to participants in their preparation for college entrance and offers opportunities for success in pre-college performance and in higher education pursuits. The program is completely federally funded. No non-governmental sources provide funding for it. Gaston College is in the third year of a five-year U.S. Department of Education grant, which supports the program and its outreach to Bessemer City and Huss high schools.

Upward Bound runs throughout the academic year. Phyllis Davis Brown, the project director, has seen support and enthusiasm for the program among students and their parents grow each year.

“The number of Upward Bound students enrolled in Career and College Promise classes has increased substantially, from one student in the 2018-19 academic year to 18 for the fall 2019 semester,” said Brown. “During the 2019-20 academic year, 90 percent of the Upward Bound students are taking honors and advanced placement classes, and we have seen some students request to be enrolled in honors classes or enroll in their first CCP class. Parent support for their children and engagement with Upward Bound are unprecedented.

“Because of the Summer Academy 2019 focus on STEM, more students are now interested in STEM fields,” she added. “One student wants to pursue studying the human genome and plans to start her higher education career at Gaston College.”

In their 2018-19 Upward Bound program reports, both Bessemer City and Huss high schools stated that the median 2018-19 ending weighted GPA scores of Upward Bound students were substantially higher than those of students who did not participate in the program.

For information about Upward Bound, contact Brown by telephone or e-mail respectively: (704) 922-2286 or

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