The Scottsdale Community College (SCC) Jr. ACE Program (Achieving a College Education) is a collaborative venture between SCC and Salt River Community Schools that helps students recognize and become prepared for post-secondary educational opportunities. The program engages students in the fifth through eighth grades from Salt River Elementary School (SRES) and Salt River High School (SRHS) in a program that benefits them with college-related experiences such as team-building, career exploration, goal-setting and much more.
The two-week program, held mid-June, presented a number of learning experiences for the 38 students who participated. During the first week, the fifth- and sixth-graders focused on science, engineering and math activities. The students took everything they learned and applied it to a rocket-launching activity at the SRHS practice fields.
The seventh- and eighth-graders focused on career and workplace skills during the entire two weeks of the program. They went on a field trip to visit two Community enterprises, the Talking Stick Resort and Saddleback Communications. The Saddleback Communications staff made it an extra-special visit for the students by letting them role-play in various jobs that the Saddleback staff members do each day.
Students acted as customer service representatives and followed a Saddleback employee out in the field. He showed the students all the things he must do to finish his work for the day, which included driving to the work site, climbing into a manhole, working on telephone lines, and then closing out his ticket back at the office. The Saddleback staff gave the fifth- and sixth-grade students a presentation on fiber optics while the older students were on the onsite tour.
Other career presentations were made by an employee of Boeing and staff from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Cultural Resources Department, who focused on the history of the Community, traditional-food tasting and Community Day.
“Students also had the opportunity to participate in another SCC summer program on making robotic cars. [This was done] to show them what they can sign up for when they grow out of the Jr. ACE Program,” said Salt River Jr. ACE Coordinator Dolores Bartlett. “There was a former Jr. ACE student participating in the robotics class, and it was really good to see him in that class.”
All 38 of the Jr. ACE participants took a field trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, where they toured the Earth Sciences Center to learn about geology, fossils, habitats and natural formations. They saw stalagmites and stalactites inside the museum’s manmade cave and toured the museum’s breathtaking mineral collection, featuring rubies, amethysts and emeralds. Before the trip, the staff got the students interested in the museum and gave them a preview of the gems and minerals so they were excited to identify them when they arrived at the museum.
“This is our fourth year in the Jr. ACE Program and it was a perfect opportunity for the youth to discover the community college experience,” said Bartlett. “The students had lunch on the SCC campus and they were all issued an official SCC student ID, which was pretty cool for elementary and junior high students.” The students received shirts, caps, backpacks and other gifts featuring the SCC mascot, Arty the Artichoke.
The Jr. ACE program thanks all the people who helped make the program possible. The program will be recruiting new participants this school year; students in fifth through eighth grade at SRES and SRHS may take part. For more information, please contact the Jr. ACE Program at (480) 423-6583.