Middle School Students Get Sneak Peek at College: PacificQuest 2017

By Dana Negro on August 22, 2016

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High achieving middle school students were offered a glimpse of college life while attending Pacific Union College’s annual PacificQuest program, July 17-22. PacificQuest allows academically outstanding 7th through 9th graders the opportunity to collaboratively explore various curriculum, in depth, while earning college credit during the week long summer program. This year PacificQuest hosted 14 students representing 13 different schools from across the country, some as far away as Texas.

This year’s PacificQuest theme focused on STEM, which is based on educating students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students were able to attend classes, taught by PUC professors, on chemistry, mathematics, and computer science.

Professor Kent Davis shared his love for chemistry, teaching students about molecules and performing his legendary demonstrations. The students enjoyed making good smelling aromas (esters) from a starting material with a terrible stench (butyric acid).

Professor Chantel Blackburn designed a course where students learned about math using colors, shapes, and codes, saying “I introduced the students to mathematical topics of symmetry groups and coding theory which are typically encountered at the undergraduate level in a course like abstract algebra. I was impressed not only by how quickly the students grasped the concepts they were learning but also by the questions they asked, which reflected a real depth of thinking while they engaged with the material.”

While professor Wayne Buckhanan and his teaching assistant helped students decode a matrix and during the final program giving their countersign to receive a certificate of completion for the class. Students also learned how to program light sticks that, when waved through the air, either spelled out a words or showed a picture. “It was really neat to see the kids interact with one another, the staff, and the teachers. They were a very smart group of kids and also inclusive of one another,” said Aimee Wyrick, professor and PacificQuest academic director.

As the typical college experience isn’t limited to inside the classroom, camp director Sydney Johnston made sure the PacificQuest students had a blast participating in a variety of exciting spiritual and social activities ranging from morning worships to trips to the observatory, baking cupcakes, a competitive game of Quiz Bowl, a pool night, and a talent show. “The campers I took to the airport Friday shouted back at me as they ran down the ramp to the plane, ‘See you next summer Mrs. Johnston!’”

Dates for next summer’s PacificQuest are July 9-14, 2017. You can find out more information by visiting puc.edu/pacificquest or emailing pacificquest@puc.edu. Classes will be announced in late fall 2016, with applications available in December.