Outreach and Engagement Highlights
Lafayette middle schoolers get a taste of college life
April 28, 2016
Alex Klein, 11, stirred glue, borax and water together in a bowl as his classmates watched, mesmerized by the science experiment unfolding in front of them.
“It’s a beautiful masterpiece,” Alex declared, using a wooden spoon to stretch the goopy, blue mixture.
Alex was one of nearly 500 sixth- and seventh-graders from Angevine Middle School in Lafayette touring campus and participating in programs presented by CU Science Discovery, the Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community, the CU-Boulder Museum of Natural History and the Department of Theatre and Dance.
The I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County, a dropout prevention and college-prep program for low-income youth, brought the Angevine students to campus on April 27 and 28 to provide a taste of college life. The foundation worked with CU-Boulder’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement and the Office for Outreach and Engagement to coordinate the on-campus activities that included science programs, dance workshops, a museum tour and a rousing theatre production about the U.S. Presidents.
Nisha Kulprathipanja, a Science Discovery instructor, led the “Muggle Magic” program, using Harry Potter references and incantations as she concocted “troll buggers” (glue, water and borax), made water disappear, used carbon dioxide gas to extinguish colored flames and more.
Alex said he enjoyed learning the science behind the chemical reactions and also the tour, where the smells from the cafeteria in the Center for Community and the campus architecture caught his attention.
“I was thinking before visiting today that I want to go to college out of state, but now I want to come here,” Alex said, who hopes to study science or maybe math. “There are lots of opportunities here for science and technology.”
The foundation provides daily after-school programming and support to about 400 Boulder County students from second grade through high school, and helps these “dreamers” achieve their goals of going to college, said Hansen Millison, a college coordinator for the foundation. This visit included all sixth- and seventh-graders from Angevine – not just the I Have a Dream students – as a way to extend the foundation’s services to more students.
"We want students to be thinking about college now, so they can make progress on their college goals as soon as they start high school,” Millison said.
Both Alex and fellow sixth-grader Ana Gonzalez were glad to be included in the campus visit even though they are not part of the foundation’s program.
“I’ve never seen a college this big,” marveled Ana, 12, as she walked past Varsity Lake toward the Norlin Quad. “My experience today was amazing and fun, because we got to explore the campus. I didn’t know there were koi fish and turtles here!”
CU-Boulder’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement hosts about 40 campus visits each year for many different organizations across the state and also works with the foundation to sponsor a summer internship and residential program, said Chris Pacheco, pre-college director in the diversity office.
“By the end of this semester we will have hosted approximately 2,500 elementary, middle and high school students from as far north as Fort Collins and as far south as Alamosa,” Pacheco said. “It gives them a glimpse of what college life might be like but, more importantly, it gives them a chance to put voice to their dreams.”