Utah Prep program strengthens STEM skills

Pictures courtesy of Liz Ruesch

Middle school students interested in STEM-related fields participated in the Utah Prep program July 13 in order to improve skills, such as math.


“We’ve learned through research and experience that math is the key, because its a stumbling block for a lot students,” said Carlos Cortez, program director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at UVU.


The Prep program is designed to help students gain the math knowledge needed in order to be prepared for college, in order to pursue careers in STEM.


“[Students] have the best intentions of wanting to become an engineer or a scientist but when they get to college and start taking the classes, they find out they can’t do the math and switch majors.”


The program runs an annual Sci-Tech Expo at UVU during the summer. At the expo, students apply what they learned from the course in interactive activities held around the school. Each activity helps the students better understand subjects such as chemistry, physics, engineering, etc. One activity involved understanding chemistry better by learning how to make ice cream with Subzero.


Phoebe Galicia, a second year at Prep, mentions that she loves the program and especially attending the Sci-Tech Expo.

“I like learning new things even though sometimes it’s hard, but we are learning new things for the future.” Phoebe said.


The Prep program originated in Texas as an easier way to STEM education. Cortez worked with the program and decided to bring it back to Utah where he began UVU Prep in the summer of 2013.


“I used to work in Texas at TSA with the prep program they have there. I worked with them for eight years,” said Cortez. “When I moved to Utah in the summertime, I was walking around campus and I noticed how empty the classes were, so I thought this would be a great place for a prep program.”


The Prep program recruits students at the sixth grade level, and the students attend for three summers. The students in Utah gather at Dixie, Southern Utah University, Weber State University and Utah Valley University.


The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare students interested in STEM fields and to provide accelerated teachings in order to prepare them for high school and college, according to Cortez.


“We’re not just preparing students for going to college, we’re promoting them to be successful.”

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