GEAR UP Schools Participate in US Navy SeaPerch

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Underwater Robotics

Three GEAR UP schools (Hamilton, Tincher, Madrid) participated in the US Navy’s 2015 Los Angeles Regional SeaPerch Underwater Robotics Challenge at the indoor pool at the University of Southern California.  Twenty eight schools, primarily high schools and middle schools competed in three different events, an obstacle course, ring retrieval and oral presentation/design of their prepared poster.  The challenge was formidable, particularly the ring retrieval and all of the students were highly engaged and fabulous under pressure.  The opportunity to be on the vibrant USC campus was an added benefit with the Trojan Invitational Track Meet going on right across the courtyard from where the students were.

In the end, Madrid Middle School took first place for their time in navigating the obstacle course and first place in the overall competition for middle schools.

Congratulations to all of the students who participated and many thanks to the teachers who have dedicated their time to work with the students since October to build the robots and find practice venues in preparation for the challenge.  Most were already talking about “next year”!

What is SeaPerch?

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The SeaPerch Program provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater ROV as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum. Throughout the project, students will learn engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and technical applications.

Building a SeaPerch ROV teaches basic skills in ship and submarine design and encourages students to explore naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering principles. It also teaches basic science and engineering concepts and tool safety and technical procedures. Students learn important engineering and design skills and are exposed to all the exciting careers that are possible in naval architecture and naval, ocean, and marine engineering.

Have you ever wondered where the name “SeaPerch” came from?  We asked the inventor of the original SeaPerch, Mr. Harry Bohm, and he shared the story with us.  Mr. Bohm explains that the name SeaPerch came from the USS Perch, a highly decorated World War II U.S. submarine.

USS Perch was one of a new breed of American submarines and was the first to incorporate an early form of air conditioning. She was launched May 9, 1936 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT and was scuttled by her crew in the Java Sea on March 3, 1942 after being severely damaged during a Japanese depth charge attack two days earlier. The crew was captured and sent to a Japanese prisoner of war camp; all but six of the 54 men and five officers onboard returned home after the war.

Her wreckage was discovered in November 2006 by an international team of divers off the coast of Java and was the object of archeological diver exploration.

SeaPerch is…

  • A hands-on educational tool
  • Fun and challenging
  • A curriculum that meets national learning standards
  • Integrates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
  • Teaches the teachers
  • Builds teamwork and inspires young minds
  • Introduces STEM career discussions

A Hands-On Activity.

Students learn best by doing, and during the process of building SeaPerch, they follow steps to completely assemble the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), test it, and then participate in launching their vehicles.

After the SeaPerch robot is constructed, students are encouraged to test their vehicles, deploy them on missions, and compete in a culminating event, the SeaPerch Challenge – a district-wide one-day design competition, to take what they have learned to the next level. The Challenge fosters an end goal, rewards sportsmanship, spirit and presentation skills, as well as mastery of the concepts. Events at the Challenge can include:

  • Vehicle performance – maneuvering and recovery
  • Innovative design (optional)
  • Team presentations – oral presentations to judges
  • Design Evaluation
  • Build Notebooks – document planning, construction, testing, and learning
  • Team spirit and sportsmanship at the event

Winners of local or regional Challenges can compete in the National SeaPerch Challenge, held each Spring.

A Teacher Training Program.

One of the most important aspects of SeaPerch, and one that differentiates it from similar programs, is that it includes training for teachers. The two methods of training are online video training modules or on-site training. The on-site training is offered in several locations at set times throughout the year, and if the teacher has travel funds available for hotel, transportation and travel expenses, and can travel to the site, the training on-site is at no charge for the 1 or 1.5 day training. Continuing education and/or professional development credits may be offered, as educators are often required to attend workshops throughout the year.

An Established Curriculum.

The SeaPerch curriculum has been designed to meet many learning standards and outcomes. With one project, schools are able to teach many of the concepts required for their grade level using a fun, hands-on activity for students. Some of the concepts the students learn during the build include:

  • Ship and submarine design
  • Buoyancy/displacement
  • Propulsion
  • Soldering/tool safety and usage
  • Vectors
  • Electricity/circuits and switches
  • Ergonomics
  • Waterproofing
  • Depth measurement
  • Biological sampling
  • Attenuation of light
  • Moment arm, basic physics of motion
  • Career possibilities

Program Benefits:

Meets Many Learning Standards and Outcomes: The SeaPerch curriculum has been designed to meet many learning standards and outcomes.

Supports Diversity: The program focuses on presenting the possibilities of technical careers to minorities, girls, and underrepresented populations.

Low Cost Per Student: The price per kit is low. Seed funding or subsidies may be available to help your program get started.

Web Resources & Community: The SeaPerch website provides resources, tools, information, and a community.

GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop Strengthens Programs

GEAR UP Capacity Building Conference, Philadelphia, PA February 8-11, 2015

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National calls emphasizing the importance of capacity building for sustainable development of grant funded education programs have been numerous.  The U.S. Department of Education in partnership with NCCEP continues to invest time and attention to capacity building for successful programs like GEAR UP.  Since 1999, the importance of these efforts has been embedded in the proposals and goals of NCCEP with support and programming based on continuous feedback, research, and professional best practices.

The February 2015 capacity building workshops were held in Philadelphia, PA the hometown of Congressman Chaka Fattah, the founder of the GEAR UP program.  Full-day training modules were designed based on pre-survey information and input from NCCEP and feedback from GEAR UP directors.  Participants were required to submit a self-assessment questionnaire in advance of the training to introduce them to the learning goals and to ensure maximum effectiveness based on participants responses. Time was provided during the sessions for facilitated networking to encourage building peer networks, deeper learning, and to create connections between programs.

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Photo: Congressman Chaka Fattah with Kay Coelho and Brad Trimble

Why Conference Attendance Matters

Whether you are a newcomer to GEAR UP or a seasoned participant, capacity building presents multiple approaches to enlighten, inspire and inform your work.  Many conferences concentrate tremendous efforton the concrete material outcomes and far less on practical, tangible and significant outcomes that do not translate monetarily: the feeling of belonging to a group with shared professional interests and commitment to the work, applicable content knowledge from presentations and vendors, networking and interacting withpeers and experts in the field.  Attending presentations, when there are so many to choose from can be a hit-or-miss adventure.  The value of this experience is unique to each individual which is why NCCEP works hard to fully engage the audience in these conferences.  

“When I was a GEAR UP coordinator, attending conferences gave me more confidence and assurance because I learned that I was doing the right thing in my work and also that I could “step things up” by trying other methods, incorporating technology, and doing more investigating through further research. These simple changes can have a powerful effect on your professional philosophy and practices, often without your being aware of it.  It also serves to remind you of the importance of remaining open to change, being a team player and sharpening your skills.”

Sean Brennan-California GEAR UP

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Building Capacity

Education professionals typically use the term capacity in reference to the perceived abilities, skills, and expertise of school leaders, teachers, faculties, and staffs—most commonly when describing the “capacity” of an individual or school to execute or accomplish something specific, such as leading a school-improvement effort or teaching more effectively. The term may also encompass the quality of adaptation—the ability of a school or educator to grow, progress, or improve. Common variations include educator capacity, leadership capacity, school capacity, and teacher capacity, among others.  The impact of this experience is described here by a first time attendee, Kay Coelho:

I am grateful for all that I learned and the connections made at the conference. I believe that the California GEAR UP program… will in many cases have the fortunate opportunity to be the “first” to inspire and motivate youth and communities.  The first to give a member of our communities confidence to understand their individuality, attend a higher education institute and change the course of their life. Be it a young person, a single mother, an only parent, or a community member. We will give an individual their first opportunity to succeed at college and a career.

Overall the Capacity Building Workshop in Philadelphia gave me ideas on how we can collaborate more efficiently together as a team. It gave me insight toward understanding that in order to build a strong team, we need to understand each other’s’ compelling WHY and complement each other. We should work with each other and not against each other, to be the first to inspire and motivate, and change the course of an individual’s future.

Once we understand WHY we do this work, we can explore HOW we do it, create a plan and inspire the compelling WHY for others.

Kay Francesca Coelho-California GEAR UP

California Partnership Initiative (CPI): A Call to Action

“We should be complementary, and not in competition,” said Whole School Services Coach Brad Trimble, during the California Partnership Initiative meeting hosted by California State GEAR UP the first evening of the conference.  According to Shelley Davis, Director of California GEAR UP: “The initiative has been created to formalize the collaboration of the State GEAR UP program and GEAR UP partnership projects.  This statewide effort will strengthen our network and build upon our good work in service to schools, students, families and communities.  We must be intentional about working together to improve school culture and to ensure college and career readiness for all students.”

CPI was designed in response to the national call for GEAR UP programs to operate more co-operatively within regions, to create a support network of professionals with similar work, challenges, and programatic goals. A long standing component of GEAR UP has been innovation and creative program design.

“I feel it is important for the California GEAR UP programs to collaborate because together we can achieve more. We strengthen each other, learn from each other, and provide support for each other. I have 30 years of experience with college access programs, including TRIO, and I know that these programs and the staff who provide direct services would not have been as effective as they are without collaboration and support from other programs staff. We cannot operate in silos. We can create bigger and more lasting change together;  we can influence people, especially policy makers, together.  Ultimately this collaboration will benefit our students, our families, and our State.”

Sue B. Huizinga–Associate Director, Regional Services College OPTIONS/GEAR UP Programs

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Photo: Palomar College GEAR UP Team at CPI Meeting

CPI will follow up with plans to meet at the National GEAR UP Conference in July in San Francisco.  For more information on the State GEAR UP programs and GEAR UP partnership projects check out the interactive map on our website at www.castategearup.org

Sessions Designed by and for Attendees

In the true spirit of capacity building, tracks were selected based on the feedback from the 2014 CBW and in direct response to identified needs of GEAR UP program participants.  Ahead of the conference, all registrants responded to a series of questions and surveys that directed the content and format of the available sessions.

The 2015 CBW workshop tracks were as follows: The Directors’ Network, GEAR UP 101, Parent Engagement, Evaluation Showcase, Grant Management, Advancing College Readiness, Strategies for First-Year Post-Secondary Success, The Coordinators’ Catalyst Network, Helping Students Earn College Credit in High School, and Closing Gaps in STEM Learning and Careers.  The CBW also offered five general sessions and several roundtable discussion sessions.

Directors Track

“I was fortunate to co-facilitate a Roundtable session with the program director from Massachusetts GEAR UP, Robert Dais. We chose an open space format that flowed very well as participants discussed common challenges and successes across four areas of our work as State programs. Even though the session was on the last day and just before lunch, the room was full and energy was high with lots of sharing.  We collected ideas from this session that will be shared with NCCEP and with our program in regional events and through the California Partnership Initiative.  We all bring teams from our staffs to this conference and bring back valuable information, tools and ideas, many of which stem from professional connections made with other participants from throughout the country.”

Shelley Davis-California GEAR UP 

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Photo:  Participants enjoy networking at the conference

Roundtable discussions are among the most flexible format offered at the conference, and may look quite different from session to session. The one thing that they have in common is that each allows for extended discussion among a small group. Roundtables are excellent venues for giving and receiving targeted feedback, having in-depth discussions, and meeting colleagues with similar interests. Grantees from CA were very impressed with this format and felt the discussion allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of their work while learning from the professionals in the room. Many remarked this was the highlight of the conference as it helped them learn while creating a network that will support them in their work at home.

Materials and other information from the conference sessions are found on the NCCCEP website. 

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Middle Grades Alliance Honors Vista Prep Academy

 

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Red Bluff Union Elementary School District superintendent William McCoy and board trustee Adriana Griffin were recognized by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the California Middle Grades Alliance (CMGA) on Thursday for modeling effective governance and leadership throughout the transformation of Vista Preparatory Academy.

Vista Preparatory Academy (formerly known as Vista Middle School) has been a California GEAR UP school since 2011. The school was reconstituted in 2013 in order to establish a student-centered learning environment that better supported the educational needs of the Red Bluff community and has been largely successful in this turnaround.

The mission of CMGA is to support high quality middle grades education designed to close achievement gaps and ensure success for all students through increasing public awareness, disseminating research and best practices for the purpose of influencing middle grades policy and informed decision-making at the state and local level. CMGA’s selection process for recognizing and celebrating district leadership focuses on the successful implementation of the California Department of Education’s 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success.

Red Bluff Union Elementary School District was specifically recognized for the District’s collaboration with the school leadership team at Vista to promote academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and for creating an effective organizational structure where all students can be successful.

The Vista Prep Story

Over the course of three years and with the leadership of a group of committed teachers, administrators, teachers, students, GEAR UP, and community partnerships, Vista Middle School transformed from a failing middle school into a thriving Preparatory Academy. The focus of the transformation: creating a school culture centered around student success as the highest priority. Their story is in progress but the results are already telling.

Let the video tell the story. Shot over three days on location in Red Bluff, CA by Emmy nominated videographer Andy Schlactenhaufen for California GEAR UP.

Special thanks to the Vista Preparatory Academy teachers and community, GEAR UP College Options, and Red Bluff Union Elementary School District.

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