The College of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology is partnering with the College of Science to offer a seven week long math and science focused summer school.
WSU Pre-Freshman Program, known as PREP, will be offered to kids entering grades 7 through 9.
This is the second year of PREP, and numbers have gone from just under capacity last year, seeing 72 out of 75 spots filled, to a total of 147 students this summer.
According to Dana Dellinger, director of the Center for Technology Outreach, said that she believes word of mouth is one of the reasons there were many more kids signed up.
Classes will run from June 7 to July 20, beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The program includes classes at both the first and second year level, including Introduction to Engineering, Logic and Problem Solving I and II, Intro to Physics and Algebraic Structures.
Students will not receive high school or college credit but instead are graded within the program.
Dellinger said that even without the grades in the program transferring elsewhere, the students are still eager to come and learn something new every day with the help of teachers and college students.
“We’re constantly reminding them of why they’re doing this,” Dellinger said. “They are doing it to become smarter, and a lot of them are actually really motivated.”
There are a total of 14 college students working with students this summer as well.
The college major of the mentors was not as important as the need for them to be good examples for the students, in addition to being proficient in both math and science.
Cody Glad, a WSU electrical engineering major, said that one of the things he noticed is that the kids are willing to learn and always try to do their best.
“A lot of people have the mindset that you’re either smart or you’re not, or you’re either good at something or you’re not,” Glad said. “But we’re teaching how much you work at something is how good you can become at it.”
In addition to the being in the traditional classroom setting, students also hear from guest speakers, work with college students on projects and take field trips to museums.
“Some of the speakers are WSU faculty, but many are from the Northern Utah area that come down and speak to the kids,” Dellinger said.
According to statistics collected from PREP-USA, 90 percent of PREP alumni who are college-aged have attended or graduated college.
“By fifth grade, the kids that don’t do anything in the summer are already up to a grade behind,” Dellinger said. “It gets worse every year, and we never catch up. By us addressing this ‘summer slide’ for our communities kids is really going to help them considerably.”
The program is free for students, and Dellinger hopes to keep it that way. WSU PREP has been sponsored by not only WSU but also Hill Air Force Base, STEM Action Center Utah, Browning Foundation, the Weber, Davis and Ogden school districts and many other donors to help keep this program accessible to all. This list of sponsors is accessible on the website.
“Part of our goal is to increase the number of people who are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions,” Dellinger said. “So in the application process we try to balance out girls and boys, as well as bringing in minorities, and what we know from research is when we have a mixed group of people, who look like the state of our country, that we’re actually much more successful.”