High School Students Enjoy Penn State Experience by Participating in SCOPE 2008
by Joe Savrock (September 2008)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Eight teenagers who have just completed their sophomore year in high school spent much of their summer at Penn State getting an idea of what college life is all about.
The students, who came from several Pennsylvania cities—Easton, York, and Philadelphia—as well as Chicago, participated this year in the Summer College Opportunity Program in Education (SCOPE). SCOPE is a four-week program filled with academic coursework, workshops, and fun activities. Now in its seventh year, the program is administered by the College’s Office of Multicultural Programs under the guidance of María Schmidt and Charleon Jeffries.
SCOPE serves teenagers from historically underrepresented groups who are interested in pursuing a career in education. The students live in residence halls on the University Park campus, earn college credits, prepare for their SAT exams, and learn important time-management and study skills.
An important outcome for students who participate in SCOPE is their opportunity to grow as individuals and become independent. “Here you learn how to think for yourself,” noted Samarie Feliciano, a student at Nueva Esperanza Charter Academy in Philadelphia.
As a cohort, the students attended two courses—CI 297A, Technology as a Student Tool; and LLED 297A, Language and Composition—and earned one college credit for each course.
Most of the SCOPE students aspire to become teachers someday. CI 297A helped hone their technology savvy and gave them pointers on how technology can be integrated into classrooms. “This class changed my perception about technology,” said Ciara Gonzalez, from Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia. “Now I know how to use it and it’s not frustrating.”
As part of their coursework, the students created blogs and produced two podcasts, the first of which was a two-person debate on whether technology should be used in classroom instruction. This exercise reinforced the qualities of teamwork and encouraged critical thinking skills.
Troy Stephens, from Philadelphia’s High School for Engineering and Science (formerly Carver High School), described how he and his podcast partner, Jasmine Jarrett, approached their project: “The first thing we decided we had to accomplish was create our argument. This wasn’t hard because we listened to each other, although we had our own opinions.”
Darrelle Banks, a student at Urban Preparatory Charter Academy for Young Men in Chicago, recognizes the benefit of working in teams. “It is great to mix two different personalities because they might have an influence on each other, and the different ways they work would help each other,” he said.
The students engaged in the use of various technology tools, including iMovies and Garageband. They also learned photo manipulation. “I was surprised to learn the many things you can do to a photo when editing it,” said Jasmine Jarrett, of Motivation Charter High School in Philadelphia.
Among more-traditional activities, the SCOPE students presented posters based on their research of pertinent educational topics. The poster presentation event was held in the Chambers Gallery on the program’s last day, August 1. Two weeks before their presentations, the students attended another poster session—conducted by the McNair scholars at the Penn Stater Conference Center—in order to get a feel for the technique.
“We were able to interview the [NcNair] people who had done their posters,” said Samantha Ruffin, also a student at the new High School for Engineering and Science. “It was fun asking questions and talking to different people. I was able to meet new people from other places other than the ones I already met at SCOPE. I met a person from Baltimore and we talked about school drop-out rates.”
The SCOPE activities weren’t all work; there was plenty of play. The cohort took fly-fishing lessons and executed a ropes obstacle course.
The students appreciated seeing what college will be like for them a couple of years from now. “To be honest I really didn’t want to leave,” said Trang Nyugen, from York Suburban High School. “I wish I had maybe another week with my SCOPE buddies.”