Furr freshmen focus on science, technology, team-building

Solar powered cars, goldfish surviving below soil, wind turbines that generate enough energy to light a house — these aren’t scenes from an environmental film. These student projects were on display as part of a STEM exhibit during the last week of the summer bridge program at Furr High School.

Students and teachers culminated nearly two weeks of activities to prepare incoming ninth-graders for high school by showcasing projects centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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Student Nataly Cabrales created an eco-bottle that included both terrestrial and aquatic environments, complete with growing plants and a fish she named “Chu Chan.” Cabrales says the work she did over the summer will help prepare her for a career in environmental science. “I want to go into biology and ecology,” she said. “I’d like to work with wind energy, so we can store energy instead of using really expensive fossil fuels.”

Summer bridge camps at Furr, as well as other HISD campuses, prepare transitioning students to adjust to a new school and new environment. By allowing incoming students access to their new school and the opportunity to meet teachers and bond with future classmates, school officials believe they have created an immersive learning space that complements the district’s Linked Learning approach.

Linked Learning, which was funded in part by a $30 million federal Race to the Top grant, combines rigorous academics with hands-on learning and real-world experiences. The Summer Bridge camp at Furr was funded by a $12 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) Grant the district was awarded last year. Furr HS is one of the first eight HISD high schools and schools in their feeder patterns using the approach.

“The summer bridge was not just to learn about robotics and everything, but it made us learn about each other, so we would work as a team,” said student Jason Oliver, who created a model car that ran on solar power during the summer bridge. “You can’t just work by yourself anymore. You have to work with others.”