Tyrrell County Students “Gear Up” for College

Published 12:39 pm Monday, July 15, 2013

Students amazed by technology at NCSU library

Students amazed by technology at NCSU library

Nineteen rising Columbia Early College and High School students recently participated in an innovative Summer Bridge program funded by a grant from Gear Up NC.  An acronym for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” Gear Up NC is designed to increase students’ preparedness to enter and succeed in post secondary education.  Grant funds provide academic tutoring, college visits, and other college readiness skills.

During a ten day program organized by teachers Vickie Furlough and Monica Liverman and guidance counselor Sarah Fox, students completed an engaging science unit learning about density, and received tips about being successful in high school and college.  Students visited the Coastal Studies Institute in Wanchese, NC, where they toured the facilities and then participated in a study of plankton in the surrounding estuary.  This involved completing a plankton tow to collect organisms, using microscopes to identify specimens, and then studying the relative densities of freshwater, estuarine water, and ocean water.  As a follow up to this visit, Coastal Studies Institute scientist Dave Sybert visited the students in Columbia to help them design environmentally sustainable coastal communities.

Students also visited four North Carolina colleges and universities during the Gear Up Summer Bridge program.  The first visit began with a trip to Chowan College in Murfreesboro, where students toured the campus and then participated in an interactive science demonstration with a chemistry professor.  Students then traveled to Elizabeth City State University, where they visited the planetarium, learned about uses for nanotechnology, and participated in a science activity explaining how solar energy is captured.

The second college visit started with a tour of North Carolina State University.  Two Park scholars talked with students about the importance of working hard and creating a strong resume throughout high school, and then gave them a tour of campus including a peek inside Reynolds Coliseum and the student recreational facilities.  Next students visited the physics department, where an engineering professor led them through an activity involving the creation of a strong stable structure capable of supporting a giant marshmallow…made of spaghetti and masking tape!  The tour culminated with a visit to the Hunt Library, where students were amazed by both the display of technology as well as the innovative design, including 75 different kinds of chairs!  Next students stopped in Rocky Mount, NC to tour NC Wesleyan College.  Students were exposed to private, public, large, and small institutes of higher education, helping them see the many choices they have available to them.

Columbia Early College High School will be seeking grant funding from Gear Up NC to continue this program during the 2013-2014 school year.