Program helps develop the minds of future engineers
UVU PREP (Pre-freshman Engineering Program) is a free STEM Summer program for middle and junior high students, which provides three summers of rigorous academic instruction, hands-on educational projects, challenging homework assignments, daily career awareness, and field trips.
The summer program lasts about seven weeks each summer in June and July. Nebo has approximately 75 students enrolled in the STEM summer program any given year. It is also available to Alpine and Provo school districts students.
The students are required to have good math grades and a teacher recommendation. The program allows incoming seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade students with an interest and aptitude in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to receive accelerated curriculum in preparation for high school and higher education.
UVU PREP strives to provide opportunities for underrepresented and first-generation students to pursue STEM studies and careers. A lot of students apply to the program each year, but UVU is not able to accept all of them.
Nebo gives the students one science elective credit if they complete the program. Most students apply to the summer program for a STEM challenge. These students enjoy solving hard problems and learning curriculum they won’t see again until college.
The STEM summer program is advantageous on a college application. However, some join because their friends are joining, others because their parents make them. “
All said and done, no matter why the students attended UVU PREP, the students who finish say they loved the challenge of the advanced courses; and that they made a lot of good friends in the process,” stated Sam McGrath, English teacher at Salem Junior High in Nebo School District and a teacher at the UVU PREP.
“It’s a great program with a fun staff. The teachers love teaching it. I would say that most of us look forward to teaching at UVU PREP as the school year winds down. A lot of kids are sad to end after their third year too,” McGrath said.
This summer program is a STEM program that teaches beyond the basics. For that reason, first-year students take an Engineering class and a Logics and Reasoning class which is easily the hardest thing the students have learned to this point.
In year two, the students take what they learned in Logics and apply it to their Algebraic Structures class, Physics, and Problem Solving classes. The third and final year, the students end with Probability and Statistics, Computer Science, and Technical Writing.
All of these classes try not overlap the curriculum that the students will learn in the regular school year. Most kids end their third year saying that Logics was their favorite class. Also, students listen to a daily career speaker, someone who works in a STEM field who speaks to the students about what they do and why they enjoy it.
Every Friday, the students take STEM-focused field trips.
Darwin Deming, physics teacher at Springville High in Nebo School District, said, “My favorite part is seeing the growth of the students where they start wide eyed with confusion; but in the end they are focused, determined, and capable of accomplishing the work. The students say they really enjoy the program, their teachers, field trips, and projects. They enjoy making new friendships across the three districts that attend.”
Suzanne Kimball, Nebo Curriculum Coordinator, said, “There was an overwhelming energy from the students, their parents, and the teachers and staff who participated in this year’s camp. After the celebration and graduation ceremony, students wearing ‘STEM is My Super Power’ T-shirts demonstrated their final projects from all their classes. You can’t help but be proud of them.” (Submitted to Serve Daily by Lana Hiskey.)