Gearing Up for the future

Jul 20, 2007

Building a roller scale model coaster isn't easy, but it can be almost as fun as riding the real thing.

Working on resumes, studying English literature and using a computer to design a roller coaster isn't the usual way high school and junior high school students spend the summer, but 55 students from Flint Northern High School and Whittier Middle School did just that, and they actually had a good time.

The students were participants in the GEAR UP program, sponsored by Central Michigan University in partnership with the Flint Community Schools, that offers students the academic skills, information and encouragement they need to graduate and go on to college prepared to succeed. GEAR UP is funded nationally by the U.S. Department of Education and locally by its project partners.

While on Kettering's campus, the students had an opportunity to find out what it takes to get into college and how to prepare for college by meeting with current Kettering students and participants in the university's Academically Interested Minorities (AIM) pre-college program. They also built a scale model of a roller coaster, working in teams to build sections that fit together for the final room-sized result. At the end of their time on campus, the group got to check out some real roller coasters at Cedar Point as part of their research into the physics and mechanics of the rib-tickling rides.

Kettering has worked with the GEAR UP program for approximately five years, according to Ricky Brown, associate director in the Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives.

"We are happy to be a part of GEAR UP," said Brown, "statistics show that when a GEAR UP program can be held on a college campus participation and enthusiasm go up. We enjoy being a part of this program to foster interest in higher education among local high school students."

Written by Dawn Hibbard