"Thar She Blows"

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When you mix 22 energetic high school seniors with one enthusiastic graduate student the results are bound to be a blast.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego hosted a group of high school seniors from northern San Diego County for an immersive program filled with science experiments, lab tours, and beach exploration. On the final day of their summer learning adventure they partnered with Scripps graduate student Geoff Cromwell to experience a simulated volcanic eruption that caused audible gasps and cheers. Cromwell studies marine geology, with a special emphasis on volcanoes and their history.

As part of TRIO Upward Bound, a national program providing fundamental support to low-income high school students traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, Scripps offered an immersive experience that engaged students in core STEM curricula in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. For a month, the students lived at the University of San Diego near the Scripps campus and experienced classroom activities spanning chemistry, physics, and history.  They also spent two afternoons a week with a talented team of Scripps graduate students who volunteered to engage the high schoolers in a variety of marine, earth, and atmospheric science that included collecting plankton samples from Scripps Pier, measuring carbon in the lab, studying ancient ice cores, examining marine fossils, and learning about the bizarre and amazing creatures found at great ocean depths.

On another sunny afternoon outdoors, Scripps graduate student Mike Navarro took the students on an excursion to the rocky tide pools near Scripps’s shoreline and talked about his early career as a research scientist. “Being a scientist,” he told them, “involves exploration and looking very closely within the tide pools, so each of you, in fact, are actually scientists for the day.”

Gilbert Bretado, Scripps student affairs coordinator, organized the Scripps summer of science and said, “The goal of TRIO Upward Bound is to expose students to STEM careers and majors, so coming to Scripps for their afternoons provided them with hands-on, tangible applications of what they were learning in the classroom.  They were engaging with our graduate students who are living the dream of becoming real scientists.”

With a strong focus on scientific field work and a heavy does of inspiration – capped off with an occasional volcanic eruption – Scripps offered a real-world glimpse into what may lie ahead from many of these inquisitive college-bound students.

- Cindy Clark

Related Image Gallery: TRIO Upward Bound Summer Learning at Scripps Oceanography

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