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Home | Tag Archives: DREAMS

Tag Archives: DREAMS

Silva Magnet Summer Camp Helps Students Pursue Their DREAMS

Middle-school students took a two-week break from their summer vacation to learn about forensics, nutrition and robotics at Silva Health Magnet.

The 200 students are enrolled in the annual Developing Research and Early Aspirations Medical Scholars or DREAMS summer camp.

The program, which began last week, gives incoming sixth graders a chance to explore DNA, solve a fictitious crime, learn to do chest compressions and exercise while learning about staying healthy. The program is open to students who were enrolled in Title 1 elementary campuses.

Program coordinator Ashley Sheldon, a counselor at Terrace Hills Middle School, sees how students flourish in the program, making meaningful connections and grasping new concepts.

“If you go watch a student who has never programmed a robot figure out how to get a robot through an obstacle course, you see the joy in their eyes and the confidence that they didn’t have even the week before,” she said.

Alyssa Rocha – each of her fingertips stained with black ink – magnified her fingerprints to get a closer view during a lesson on forensics. She and her classmates held up their blackened fingerprints while teachers and Silva volunteers walked around the classroom handing out baby wipes.

“I think this is good,” she said, examining her finger-printed masterpiece. “It makes kids get more intelligent and learn more.”

In the hallway, students hunched over laptops programming robots in an obstacle course marked on the floor with masking tape. In another classroom, students studied calories and fats. Sheldon likes the fact that the program is at Silva – giving potential Silva students a glimpse into the classrooms and health-related curriculum. 

“They learn a lot about fingerprints, DNA and things that they were not previously exposed to,” she said. “They love that the physician from the medical school will provide the samples for them to examine. It makes them feel like they’re on their way to medical school.”

Recent Silva graduate Miguel Saucedo returned to Silva this summer to volunteer with the middle schoolers. He’s enjoyed watching them discover and explore the different elements of the camp as they work together to solve problems and figure out practical solutions.

“DREAMS doesn’t just open their minds,” he said. “It opens their imagination and makes them go over the horizon.”

Dejia Quinonez, who will be attending Armendariz in the fall, originally wanted to do a soccer camp but thought DREAMS might open her eyes to a possible career and make new friends.

“So far, it’s been really good,” she said. “We’re learning healthy stuff and exercising. I like the robotics because we’re learning how to put them into races. You really get to put your mind into it.”

Story by Reneé De Santos \ Photos by Alicia Chumley – El Paso ISD

EPISD’s DREAMS Program Inspiring Incoming Middle Schoolers

The Developing Research and Early Aspirations Medical Scholars or DREAMS camp drew nearly 400 middle school students to Silva Health Magnet this summer to discover health care careers.

The 12-day program is broken down into three units: robotics, forensics and nutrition.  Every four days, the students rotate units so they can explore all three areas.

“We try to engage them in a medical aspect of thinking,” teacher Maria Bañales said.

In the forensics unit, students are presented with a simulated crime scene. They collect evidence for analysis, including hair, fibers and fingerprints.

“They look at DNA and different ways to figure out who committed the crime,” Bañales said. “The kids love it.”

Student Alexa Ontiveros enjoyed exploring fingerprint identification.

“I learned there are three types of fingerprints: arches, loops and whorls,” Ontiveros said. “Science is something I am definitely interested in so this program is really cool.”

Students received a list of suspects, each with a statement of their whereabouts to help the junior investigators solve the crime. Based on her preliminary findings, Ontiveros has her money on the suspect “Kendra.”

“I think Kendra did it because her fingerprints were on the cup,” Ontiveros said.

On the third floor, the robotics students were busy building and programming Lego Mindstorms robots. In groups of three, they designed and named their robot then coded them to navigate a maze.

Student Javier Gonzalez’ group named their robot “Chuck Norris.” He enrolled in the program with high hopes, and he hasn’t been let down.

“When I heard I could sign up for this program, I thought it would be a super cool thing and it is,” Gonzalez said.

He thinks the program is going to give him a leg up when he starts school at Guillen Middle School next month.

“We get to socialize and work with our partners,” he said. “It has helped me become more focused, and it has helped me learn how to build.”

Students learn the importance of a healthful life during the nutrition portion of the program. Dr. Herb Janssen from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center here in El Paso runs a urine analysis lab using his own secret recipe for fake urine, teaching students what markers to look for when testing for diabetes.

The program also provides an opportunity for high school students to volunteer their time to help the middle schoolers.

“We have about 30 EPISD high-school students who volunteer,” program coordinator Ashley Sheldon said. “They serve as mentors for the younger kids. They are in each classroom helping and talking to them about what they are learning. It’s a great experience overall for everyone. They all love the rotations, and it’s just really fun. We all have a great time.”

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