Avondale, Ariz. - While a large number of college students flocked to the beach and getaways like Mexico to enjoy their spring break, a group of Estrella Mountain Community College students created their own adventure at California Polytech University at Pomona, March 18-21. The group, scholars in the fields of math, science and technology, visited the campus's biotechnology lab where they watched graduate students experiment with neurotoxins produced by food poisoning bacterium and took a tour of BioTrek, a comprehensive rainforest simulation and learning center. The 3,500 square foot facility provides students and visitors with the opportunity to learn the importance of environmental conservation through an interactive learning and research process.
A visit to Six Flag's Magic Mountain was also part of the itinerary. However, the outing was more than just an opportunity to ride roller coasters. Rides such as the "Dive Devil", a free-fall skydive, gave students a chance to explore physics, and more specifically, interactions between moving bodies and the earth.
Columbia Lloyd, one of the student participants, didn't mind using part of her spring break to learn about math and science. She expressed, "Visiting a school as well known as Cal Poly was great. I was okay with spending my spring break there because I learned things I wouldn't otherwise have known, like about plant life across the world and how basic physics (gravity, velocity and acceleration) applies to all of the rides at Magic Mountain."
All of the students involved are participants in EMCC's National Science Foundation CSEMS (Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarships) Program. The program supports scholarships for academically talented and financially needy students, enabling them to enter the high-technology workforce upon completion of a degree in computer science, computer technology, engineering, engineering technology, or mathematics. This is the second year the college has awarded scholarships from the program, as part of a four-year commitment from the National Science Foundation.
The grant pays for 30 individual, $3000 scholarships per year, with another portion of the funds earmarked for faculty mentoring support. Students are selected through an application process. Rey Rivera, Mathematics faculty and the program's coordinator says, "It's a great program. I just wish more students would apply."