Upward bound in more ways than one

by speitz7. July 2010 07:09

Handmade hot-air balloons soared over Moraine Park Technical College’s Fond du Lac campus June 29-30. Led by Berlin High School science instructor Tim Cox, Upward Bound students crafted the four- to-five-foot-tall balloons from colored tissue paper then launched them using a Coleman stove and a stove pipe to generate the hot air.

“What's nice about this class is that it is hands-on so it appeals to a variety of kids with different levels of interest in science,” said Cox. “Those with a higher level of interest can do the physics side and determine why things are performing the way they do and those at the lower end like it because they can see the project in action. The hot air balloon is a perfect example of this. We know hot air rises but there is a lot more science involved."

Upward Bound students and instructor Tim Cox (far right) fill a  tissue-paper balloon with hot air from a Coleman stove prior to  launching it.

A federal TRIO program of the U.S. Department of Education, Upward Bound is provided free by Moraine Park to Fond du Lac, Ripon and Beaver Dam high schools. This pre-college program prepares first-generation college-bound students for the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree after high school.

"This is the third year of the program," said Joyce Atkins, Upward Bound program director at Moraine Park. "It's projects like the balloon launch that keep the students involved and help make the program successful. Plus they learn skills and concepts that apply to their high school studies."

During the school year, Upward Bound participants learn about study skills, time management, scholarships and college selection. College visits, field trips and career workshops are also part of the schedule. The Summer Session consists of college-prep classes taught by high school teachers at Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus, with the last week spent at Marian University taking classes and staying in a dorm.

"You meet a lot of really cool and awesome people and I've made quite a few friends from Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and Ripon high schools,” said Casey Smet, a junior at Fond du Lac High School who is in her third year of Upward Bound. “We all have something in common – we all want to go to college.”

Smet said she didn't expect her grades would go up as much as they did when she enrolled in Upward Bound. “You learn so much in the program. The classes (during the six-week summer program) are a lot smaller so it really helps you learn. I used to be excited when school would be out over summer and now I'm excited to be going to school in the summer. I never thought I'd be excited to go to school. It's really a lot of fun, especially dorm week."

For more information about Upward Bound, call Joyce Atkins at 920-924-6381 or Bethany Lombardo at 920-948-8752.