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Local GT students participate in ENCORE camp

San Benito CISD Gifted and Talented (GT) students recently participated in a fun-filled, educational camp. It was an opportunity that allowed participants to explore and better understand the medical industry as well as the fields of Engineering and Forensic Science.

This summer, the GT Program welcomed Engaging Communities for College Readiness (ENCORE) Program Career Awareness and Mentorship Program (CAMP) team members to San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy to guide GT students in Kindergarten through the eighth grade as they engaged in hands-on activities designed for them to explore and understand various career choices.

ENCORE, an initiative of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation and partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was developed to dramatically increase the number of students ready to enroll and complete a post-secondary education.

“The ENCORE Camp focused on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). These are critical areas that we want our students exposed to. There is a need to fill jobs in these areas, and there is an under-representation of Hispanics and females in these career clusters,” explained GT Coordinator Dr. Yvette Cantu.

During the Engineering components of the camp, participants engaged in various hands-on activities and challenges.

Students learned about the structure and design of rockets and built small-scale rockets, created roller coasters using pipe insulation and marbles, built wind turbine systems during the study of wind power, and assembled hydraulic arms.

“Our goal was to expose students to careers in STEM so they can experience what it might be like to work in these careers. Each day, our students had a different challenge,” said Cantu.

“They were able to experience what a day in the life of a Forensic Scientist or Engineer might be like. They were exposed to problems and challenges that they worked through to develop solutions or products just like experts in those field might do.”

The medical field component went on to introduce the GT students to a variety of interactive activities and examples of a career in medical research. Activities included DNA extraction and identifying organisms through common laboratory procedures.

For the Forensic Science component, student-investigators solved mock crimes using science and crime scene investigation techniques. Activities included collecting evidence from a crime scene, making imprints of their hands, and analyzing their fingerprints.

“This hands-on approach proved instrumental in engaging our students and helping them make connections about how their learning connects to the real world and what careers they want to have in the future,” added Cantu.

The ENCORE initiative not only helped emphasize academic content such as math, science, and reading, it also empowered participating GT students to use their natural talents and abilities in order to complete the tasks at hand.

For additional information GT program initiatives, please contact the GT Program office at (956) 361-6130.

GT Encore Camp 1 (imprints) GT Encore Camp 2 (microbiology)

GT Encore Camp 3 (robot hand) GT Encore Camp 6 (crime scene 2)

GT Encore Camp 5 (crime scene 1) GT Encore Camp 4 (hydraulic arm)