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Inaugural Buckeye Precollege Institutes give high schoolers taste of college life

Students conduct research projects while living on campus

High school students from all over the country are gathering at The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus throughout June for the inaugural Buckeye Precollege Institutes. During the residential camp, students participate in hands-on, project-based learning in college-level programs designed and led by Ohio State faculty and staff.

The first session was held June 5-16 and the second session began June 19 and continues through June 30.

“The Buckeye Precollege Summer Institutes will enable high school students to learn more about Ohio State, benefit from our outstanding faculty and instructors, and consider Ohio State as a destination for college,” said Ohio State Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa Gilliam. “Through these programs, participants will discover potential career paths, gain college-level academic skills and engage with thought-provoking, real-world challenges that can impact our world.”

Course offerings include Fashion and Retail Foundations: Entrepreneurship and Ingenuity; Impact Engineering, Technology, and Science for Solving Wicked Problems; Language and Society; and the Science of Athletic Performance.

Science of Athletic Performance students participate in an experiment to measure how cooling vests affect endurance on treadmills.Professors Julie Kennel and Carmen Swain said the Science of Athletic Performance program gave students an opportunity to expand their health and fitness knowledge and learn about careers in the industry. Assignments included measuring classmates’ aerobic and strength performance in laboratories maintained by Ohio State’s exercise science program.

“We want these precollege students to get as much hands-on experience as they possibly can,” Swain said. “We take them through a lot of different exams that we do in the labs. We also set up experiments for them so that they can learn about the research process and what we do down here. We are big on experiential learning.”

Lauryn Brown, who will be a junior at Hawken High School in Cleveland in the fall, said one of the most interesting experiments she participated in involved wearing a headset and a mouthpiece to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide output while walking on a treadmill.

“Seeing my classmates doing it, it was just so eye-opening,” she said, “especially learning all the things that come with it.”  
Fashion and Retail Foundations professors Dr. Cydni M. Robertson and Alexandra Suer said students designed their own clothing and jewelry lines to market to Ohio-based fashion brands.

“It was our job and our motivation to expose them to as many facets and aspects of the fashion industry as possible, whether that be design or being a fashion historian or costume design or owning your own retail store or designing a brand for a retail store or a being digital merchandiser, even a fashion event planner,” Robertson said. “There’s so many career fields within this broad major of fashion that we want to give them a glimpse of everything.”

Students entered the program with creativity, but often no previous experience in fashion or design, Robertson said. 

“Many of them didn’t come with design experience, but more so the desire to learn,” she said, “which is what we love working with.”

Fashion and Retail Foundations students learn about graphic design.Brady McNamara, who will be a senior at Ironwood Ridge High School in Tucson, Arizona, in the fall, said he learned a variety of skills, from fashion merchandising to designing a business logo.

“I’ve always liked business and fashion, but I never really thought there was a way to combine the two so I could follow both my passions,” he said. “When I saw this class listed on the Ohio State Precollege website, I knew that it was the right choice because I was interested in both of them.”

In the Language and Society program, students conducted research projects that involved collecting and analyzing data. Projects included interviewing people in the Ohio Union and on the Oval and analyzing whether participants responded with a dialect unique to Ohio or other parts of the country. Students also visited the Thompson Library, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and Ohio State’s Language Pod laboratory at the Center of Science and Industry in downtown Columbus.

“I’m trying to get them excited about doing research on language,” said Professor Lauren Squires. “They were all very enthusiastic about going to talk to people, so it was fun.”

Brenda Ocana, who will be a senior at Cincinnati’s McNicholas High School in the fall, said the Language and Society program has helped her envision a future career.

“I got to meet people that probably without this program I would have never met,” Ocana said. “It gives me an idea of where I want to go.”

Impact Engineering, Technology, and Science for Solving Wicked Problems professors Patrick Sours and Cherish Vance said the course gave students an opportunity to address complex global issues such as climate change and sustainable development. The students participated in small group discussions, presentations by guest speakers, field trips to campus engineering laboratories and demonstrations on 3D printers and other advanced technology.  

“The whole idea was to make the experience interactive,” Sours said. “The students are coming in excited. They see the challenges in the world, and they look forward to using their skills to make an impact.”

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