Porum GEAR UP seventh graders tour Tulsa Community College & OK Aquarium

Thirty-eight Porum GEAR UP students recently traveled to Tulsa to tour Tulsa Community College (TCC) and then to Jenks to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium. Students began the morning by participating in a guided tour at TCC led by Admission Coordinator Kelsey Pitts and Admission and Prospective Student Services Recruiter Ali Castillo. Porum students saw numerous buildings and learned about various programs on campus.

Students began the tour at the Southeast campus. There are four main campuses in the Tulsa area and two commuter campuses. The Southeast campus is the largest with approximately 10,000 students. Programs are hands on to prepare students to transfer to a four-year university or go straight into the workforce. Students toured Building 8 that hosts programs related to math and science such as nursing, radiology, dental hygiene, respiratory care and other medical related courses.

Next students ventured to Building 6, also known as the Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE) Building. The state-of-the-art facility houses performing arts programs and serves as the performance hall for the Signature Symphony at TCC, TCC Music and Theatre productions, and an array of visiting artists and performance groups. Students got to go behind the scenes to see the individual recording studios and the Black Box Theatre.

In Building 7 students walked through the Library and the Campus Store. They were interested to learn about the various items (besides books) the store had to offer such as electronics, clothing and a free “gaming station” for breaks in between classes. Jasmine Lang from Northeastern State University (NSU) was also there to recruit transfer students. She explained the transfer process and different NSU campuses. In Building 9 students visited the gym which hosts a double basketball court, rock climbing wall, walking track and tons of exercise equipment. This is all free for TCC students to use.

After lunch, Porum seventh graders went to the OK Aquarium. Education Specialist Julia Gibson led students through the “Inside Story” tour. This was such a neat experience for students to see and learn about the various aquatic animals. The first stop was the Bull Shark Tank, a 380,000-gallon tank with ten bull sharks and three nurse sharks. The group then went into the prep kitchen where staff was preparing meals for the animals. Students were surprised to learn about the various dietary requirements for each animal and how often they are fed.

After the kitchen tour, Gibson led students to the top of the Bull Shark Tank. It looked like a huge swimming pool, but no students were eager to dive in. Next, they went downstairs to explore the shark tank from inside the “Shark Tunnel.” The “Touch Tank” was open and students were able to pet small sharks and stingrays before heading back to Porum.

“Both TCC and the OK Aquarium were new to most students and I think they had a blast!” said Rachael Ranallo, GEAR UP Education Coordinator. “They were very inquisitive taking back new knowledge to consider for future college programs and possibly career options.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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