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ADA – Amie Orr is passionate about science and plans to pass along that enthusiasm while leading East Central University’s Upward Bound Math and Science Program.
“Rural schools do not have the funds to support hands-on activities in math and science, whereas, our students get exposed to laboratory activities during our summer program,” said Orr. “Experts say that a high level of learning occurs when the students are actively engaged.”
The skills, along with the interest, for mathematics and science are somewhat lacking, according to Orr. Through ECU’s Upward Bound Math and Science, she hopes to ignite fervor among ninth through 12th graders.
“Our goal is to spark enthusiasm for math and science,” Orr said. “We know that the United States is not competing on a level field with the rest of the world. We’re not graduating enough students with degrees in math and science.”
Though juniors and seniors can be eligible and welcome for the program, Orr is particularly targeting those who have just finished the eighth grade or in ninth grade.
Orr is planning and in the process of visiting Ada and surrounding area schools for recruitment purposes.
“We’re trying to target younger students and get them excited early,” said Orr. 
The program is not only designed for those strictly interested in math and science, but related fields such as engineering and technology as well.
Once a month, a workshop is held in which speakers come in and visit. There have been representatives from the FBI, Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma State Wildlife Department, Chesapeake Energy and ECU professors come in and encourage the students.
Benefits for the program include fee waivers for ACT tests and college tours. The hands-on portion comes with students serving summer internships at hospitals, dental offices, optometrists’ offices and veterinary clinics for example.
New state testing requirements are getting tougher with new common core objectives, so participation in Upward Bound Math and Science is beneficial, according to Orr.
Upward Bound Math/Science is funded by the United States Department of Education and ECU’s grant serves seven at-needs school districts including: Ada, Asher, Byng, Mason, Maysville, Calvin and Wetumka.
The $250,000 grant, which is in its second year, was put into action to help low-income, first-generation students develop the skills necessary for postsecondary education. The funds from the grant support 67 students, who participate in two monthly assignments during the academic year (math and science) for which they are paid a stipend. They also participate in monthly workshops which are geared toward things such as financial literacy, career explorations, ACT/SAT preps, EOI preps, study skills, Oklahoma Promise, FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) and college application completions. The students can also earn a stipend for attendance at the monthly workshops.
During the summer, the students are invited to participate in ECU’s six-week summer camp attend courses across campus with intense instruction in math and science, live in ECU’s residence halls and eat in the Taff Cafeteria. They earn stipends during this time as well.
Rhonda Pettit, who worked in ECU’s Talent Search in 1992, wrote a grant for the program and it was funded as a regional chapter of Upward Bound. The regions consisted of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas. The grant has continued since. However, there are now regions and school districts within Oklahoma.
The deadline for applying for the program is Oct. 31.
For more information about the ECU Upward Bound Math and Science Program call 580-559-5689.

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