Gifted and Talented Students Visit APU

by Sean Fitzpatrick '04

During July, 100 elementary, 40 middle, and 30 high school students from the Azusa Unified School District (AUSD) gather at APU to participate in summer G.A.T.E. (Gifted And Talented Education) classes. The summer school program, which is in its second year, is part of a partnership between APU and the AUSD. Teachers and professors from both academic institutions teach classes that bring an additional challenge to students who wish to take advantage of opportunities to enrich their education.

The elementary school classes challenge participants to build cardboard airplanes capable of achieving their prescribed goals. For instance, if students want their planes to fly level for 20 feet, they adjust their design to achieve that goal. As part of the project, they add weight, cut flaps, adjust wing shape, and even paint their airplanes. Later, the students learn how to use computer technology to put together a presentation on their findings.

The high school students enrolled in the G.A.T.E. summer school program earned college credit for courses in literature and writing and science. Scott Kinnes, Ph.D., professor of biology at APU, teaches a science class for G.A.T.E. students from Azusa High School. "We built an ecosystem with a fish inside to learn how living things act in different environments," said student Juana Cortes. The class also journeys to Long Beach to study marine life from ocean samples.

Dedicated to bringing challenges to the participants, teachers and professors also ensure a fun learning environment. "It’s been fun and we are learning a lot," said Juana Cortes.