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New STEM Students Zoom into QCC Via Summer Bridge Program

August 2020
  • New college students show empowering messages in a zoom meeting during QCC's Summer Bridge Program.
    New college students show empowering messages in a zoom meeting during QCC's Summer Bridge Program.

A group of incoming QCC students zoomed through a summer program designed to prepare them for a fast start when their classes begin in September. The accelerated “Summer Bridge” program was designed for students pursuing STEM majors and was organized under QCC’s STEM Starter Academy (SSA) program. Students met remotely via Zoom each day for three weeks.

According to SSA program coordinator Darcy Carlson, the Summer Bridge program was based upon an existing course, First Year Experience (FYE 101) offered to all new QCC students. The STEM Starter Academy Grant fully-funded the Summer Bridge program. Successful completion of the program earned students three credits, as well as prepared them to begin their college careers at QCC.

The FYE 101 course was customized for the new incoming STEM students by Psychology Professor Lizette Cordeiro, and was designed to help build student success. One aspect of the course emphasized self-discovery, and students learned more about their values, interests, motivations, behaviors, personalities, and interaction styles. They acquired and developed skills for career planning, job searching and an understanding of job satisfaction. The students also focused on acquiring practical tools and strategies for being successful students by exploring effective learning strategies, and gaining information on how to navigate and use college procedures and resources.

This customized course included a variety of workshop sessions taught by six different STEM faculty members who each conducted a session featuring a different area of STEM. Students explored the fields of physics/astronomy, optics and the scientific method, website design, biotechnology, robotics and environmental science. Sessions were designed to be a combination of lectures, as well as hands-on activities that students completed outside of class. Some sessions included presentations from people working in the STEM field.

QCC Photonics Professor Jacob Longacre’s session focused on the scientific method, demonstrating the challenge of designing a controlled experiment where only one variable is tested. Students designed and conducted experiments themselves and wrote about what they did as their homework.

“I was very impressed with many of the experiments that students designed with limited instruction from me,” Professor Longacre said.

STEM student Tarrah Muldoon was one of the students who participated in the Summer Bridge program. Ms. Muldoon is joining the cybersecurity program at QCC this fall. She is currently working in the field of cybersecurity and is seeking her degree to be able to grow and progress in her career. Like many QCC students, she is working full-time and is a parent of two young children.

“I was a bit concerned about starting college after having been out of school for so many years, but I felt very welcomed by Professor Cordeiro and my fellow students in the summer bridge program,” Ms. Muldoon said. “It was great to share ideas, be introspective, and get support with what I needed to get done before starting classes; setting up my QCC email account, accessing the Blackboard learning management system, Starfish system, and learning about all the resources available to support my success - the general tutoring center, math center and writing centers, advising and career services. I think it would be overwhelming to have had to learn all of this on my own while taking classes and juggling everything else in my life.”