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WC Upward Bound students explore solar power and drip irrigation

WC Upward Bound students explore solar power and drip irrigation.

Students in the Weatherford College Upward Bound program participated in a weekend academy earlier this month exploring food and power in developing countries.

Their weekend included a visit from civil engineer Jon Fripp, his daughter Isabel Fripp and civil/environmental engineer Cherie LaFleur. The students also had a chance to creating drip irrigation systems that will be sent to Pakistan and other countries where the irrigation can be implemented to grow crops and reduce water waste.

“The 25-plus Upward Bound students not only learned about how many different humanitarian efforts are being made to help these people in the countries, but they were able to make a difference as well,” said Jeff Kahlden, Director of WC’s Upward Bound program.

The students surpassed their group goal of six and assembled 11 drip irrigation kits during the one-day session. The kits allow for a simple yet powerful technology which involves gravity fed irrigation lines that convey water to individual food plants. There are no moving parts in this easy-to-maintain irrigation system. Two kits can be carried in a small field pack and can provide irrigation to feed a family for five to seven years.

Students also had the opportunity to learn about solar power and the impact it’s making across the globe as they took part in building their own mini solar chargers which allowed them to charge small items like cell phones and tablets.

"I learned a lot today,” said Mineral Wells High School senior Tyler Cumbus. “The use of solar energy is something that is very environmentally safe and something that I want to utilize more in the future.”

“Projects like these that Upward Bound has for us as students gives us a chance to add to our resume with community service, to learn about science and engineering, and to work as a team with our UB peers” said Gordon High School junior Perla Hernandez.

WC Upward Bound has made an effort to bring more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related activities to the program’s participants throughout their Saturday academies and summer academies.SolarCharger

“We want to encourage our students to pursue STEM degrees or careers,” Kahlden said. “Our students sometimes aren’t exposed to many STEM related activities due to school regulations or lack of resources. Therefore programs like Upward Bound are trying to show students they can pursue a degree that can make an impact globally.”

The WC Upward Bound program serves students who are future first-generation college students and economically disadvantaged through a federal TRIO grant from the US Department of Education. This grant serves high school students in Springtown, Mineral Wells, Graford, Gordon and Millsap.

Top Photo: Shasta Welch, Isabel Fripp, Pam Hebert, Isaac Meza and Tyler Cumbus work on building micro solar chargers.

Bottom Photo: The Upward Bound group with their completed irrigation kits. Front Row: Trinity LaRue, Shasta Welch, Sophia Kelley, Kaitlyn Harris and David Garcia. Back Row: Cheri LaFleur, Andres Hernandez, Isabel Fripp, Daran Gonzales, Pam Hebert, Perla Hernandez, Tommy Kelleher, Madison Doka, Ruth Martinez, Lupe Munoz, Brandon Wallace, Frances Hernandez, Tyler Cumbus, Angelica Antonio, Abbigail Ramirez and Abigail Lowry.