EDINBURG-From water balloon catapults to building and designing a peddled go-cart, Valley students are learning there is more to science than just textbooks this summer at The University of Texas-Pan American.
More than 150 high school students from across the Rio Grande Valley are learning that science can be fun with UTPA's Prefreshman Engineering Program. The Tex-PREP program is designed to promote student interest in science, engineering and mathematics.
"We know that the country has a real problem getting students in high school interested in careers in science, math and engineering," said Dr. Miguel Paredes, director of the Tex-PREP program at The University of Texas-Pan American. "Once we give that information to them they see the special opportunities that they have in these areas. We make an effort to let them know how important mathematics is for them. Make sure that they take mathematics very seriously."
Paredes said the program offers students a chance to get hands on experience with science.
"If I wouldn't have been in Tex-PREP, I would have never touched on some of the subjects that we are covering now," said Marina Saenz, a second year Tex-PREP student from Mission. "I wouldn't have been involved in so many interesting projects. Teachers have a lot of problems just trying to get the curriculum in so there is no leisure time for us to really get to know most of what they're trying to teaching us."
Saenz also said the program has given her a taste of college life in the process.
"It's given us a taste of how the professors are going to treat us in college," Seanz said.
"They are a little more laid back and a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with all of them. Just getting to walk through the campus is a lot of fun getting to see a lot of people. I met a lot of people through this program as well and just all of us together walking around, it makes us feel a little more mature."
Carlos Garcia, a program assistant and former Tex-PREP student said the program has a positive effect on the students.
"When I came here, I got to have this new experience, the new university experience walking around the campus," Garcia said. "I'm pretty sure the students still do this. They get to see what it is like to be on a university campus. They are being treated like adults especially through the professors. The professors will treat them like if they're university students so they won't give them any breaks."
In a world of mathematical challenges, today's Tex-PREP students may be tomorrow's engineers and scholars.
For more information on the Tex-PREP program, contact Dr. Paredes at 956/381-3459.