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ASU STEM camp inspires future teachers

Science camp at ASU inspires future teachers.
June 21, 2016

High schoolers use hands-on techniques at Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy

Teenagers attending the Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy at Arizona State University this week are learning to think like engineers so that someday they can teach that way.

The camp, for high school students who have an interest in teaching, focuses on science, technology, engineering and math and is sponsored by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The teens live on the ASU Polytechnic Campus for a week as they work on projects together. Hunnicutt will hold another session next week at ASU’s West campus.

“In schools we want STEM in all of our subjects because it makes us critical thinkers,” Hilary Goodine, one of the student teachers, told the campers as they worked on a project. She graduated from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in May with a degree in elementary education and begin teaching at the Eduprize School in Queen Creek this fall.

The camp is designed to show how hands-on activities are crucial for STEM learning, said Daniel Cortez, who will be a senior education major and was one of the student teachers at the camp.

During the week, the campers used index cards and tape to design desk-top “skyscrapers” and later in the week will create machines to pop balloons in a Rube Goldberg competition.

Suny Mendez, a camper at the Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus, gets help from Daniel Cortez, a student teacher at the camp and a senior in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Photo by Alisha Gudz/ASU

“All of the activities are designed to follow the engineering design process and all the steps,” Cortez said.

“And that’s what a lot of being a teacher is — helping other people solve problems, and using whatever resources you have.”

Just being on the campus is helpful for the teens, many of whom would be the first in their family to attend college. Connie Pangrazi, the assistant dean of academics at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said research shows that students who visit campus are more likely to enroll in college

“We give them an opportunity to be here overnight, and we expose them to college life and they say ‘Wow, I can picture myself here.’ ”

The Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy is one way the college is inspiring future teachers at a critical time — 26 percent of public school teachers in Arizona will be eligible to retire by 2018, according to the state Department of Education.

This year’s campers got a nice bonus after they applied. Thanks to a grant from the College Football Playoff Foundation, all fees were waived and the week was free.

Josh Rios of Mesa just graduated from Desert Vista High School and hopes to attend the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College after taking classes at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

“I’ve thought about being a teacher for the last year, and I wanted to see what this was like,” he said.

“I wanted to see the college atmosphere too. The beds could be more comfortable, but it’s really fun.”

Top photo: Brandon Correa works on a project at the Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy at the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University. Photo by Alisha Gudz/ASU

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Inspiring Native youth to think about college

June 21, 2016

Camp helps American Indian high schoolers explore careers, tour labs, get published — and picture themselves at ASU

Carla Todecheenie was not going to let anything prevent her daughter Hannah from attending Arizona State University’s Inspire camp this week.

Not financial issues. Not car troubles. Not a crippling heat wave. Not even an interstate pile up that sent her and Hannah on a five-hour detour through an Arizona forest.

She was that determined, and now Hannah (pictured above), along with 79 other Native American youth, is getting a first-time look at life on a college campus.

So far Hannah likes what she sees.

“I like how everyone is open, outgoing and kind. It’s a very creative atmosphere,” said the 14-year-old high school freshman. She traveled about 280 miles from Chinle, Arizona, with her mother and carpooled with another family to ASU’s Polytechnic campus, the host site of Inspire.

“I’m here because I want to get a jump on my career and not fall behind in my life.”

That’s the idea behind Inspire, an inaugural Native American youth camp designed to be a fun, holistic experience that helps build college readiness and a new pathway to ASU.

student playing with STEAM machine

Shalee Allison, 15, tests the STEAM Machine her group made at the Inspire program on the Polytechnic campus on June 21. Her group started with a Hot Wheels car, which struck a ball, which pushed a pipe-cleaner figure down a slide. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) machines tell stories through chain reactions, much like a Rube Goldberg machine. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“Our hope is what they get out of this experience is the opportunity to know they belong on a college campus,” said Jacob Moore, assistant vice president of tribal relations in the Office of University Affairs. “For many of them, this is the first time they’ve visited a college from a rural reservation community. We want them to see ASU as a place that’s not only welcoming but where we want to see them thrive.”

Moore said approximately 2,600 Native American students attend ASU, which recently saw its largest graduating class of 362 in May.

Inspire is geared for a diverse group of students from different tribes, locations and grade levels (9-12), at no costInspire is sponsored by a $65,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation to ASU’s University College, with support from the Office of American Indian Initiatives and American Indian Student Support Services. to participants, explained the program's director, Jeanne Hanrahan, University College's director of community outreach.

Duane Roen, vice provost of the Polytechnic campus, said the site is the perfect place to host the camp.

“We want everyone to see the beauty of the Polytechnic campus and all that it has to offer,” said Roen. “I love the architecture. I love the desert landscaping. I love the sense of community here. I make no bones about it, Poly is my favorite campus.”

In addition to Roen, part of the welcome includes ASU American Indian student peer mentors, administrative staff and professors delivering culturally specific curriculum, team-building exercises and activities — including an indigenous reading and writing workshop, lab tours, career talks, motivational speeches and an open mic night and writing showcase.

students sitting around table writing

Teri Noland, 15 (left), and Binita GreyBull, 15, come up with ideas to create a STEAM Machine at the Inspire program on the Polytechnic campus on June 21. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

One of the faces the 80 campers will get to know throughout the week is Lyonel Tso, an environmental science teacher at Central High School in Phoenix. Tso is a member of the Navajo tribe from LeChee, Arizona, and will be conducting a science-engineering activity on the Valley’s urban heat-island effect on the ecosystem.

“It’s important for Native American students to see a person of color as a teacher,” Tso said. “When you see someone you identify with, you immediately build a connection with them. They have it in mind they could be in my place one day.”

Klain Benally, a 19-year-old peer student who is an American Indian Studies major and a Navajo, said Native American youth have many cultural and social hurdles to overcome when transitioning from high school to college.

“There is a culture shock, no doubt about it,” Benally said. “Back home on the reservation, students are more in touch with their culture and community and know how to access resources. Homesickness will be one of the biggest hardships as well as being considered a minority in the big city. One of our goals is to teach students about college, the steps they need to take, and how to connect with one another once they are here.”

For 15-year-old Owen Lee, who drove from Gallup, New Mexico, with his grandparents Louise and Thomas Billie, he believes making that transition won’t be hard for him. He’s fairly well-traveled for a teen, has resided in several states and visited at least three college campuses. So far he’s leaning toward ASU.

“My uncle attended ASU, and he’s a person I look up to,” Lee said. “I’m leaning towards criminology. I’d like a career with either the state police, border patrol or the FBI.”

After this week, Lee and the other campers may consider a career in writing. At the closing ceremony on Saturday, students will read their writings and come out of the program as published authors in an online teen journal being launched by Red Ink, an international journal of indigenous literature, arts and humanities.

“How cool is it to say you’re a published author as a teen?” said ASU English professor James Blasingame, who was a writing instructor at the camp and will lead the open mic night. “I think it’s fantastic.”

Top photo: Hannah Todecheenie, 15, of Chinle, Arizona, starts writing ideas to create a STEAM Machine at the Inspire program on the Polytechnic campus on June 21. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now