Fifty-one Eufaula GEAR UP students recently traveled to Jenks to visit the OK Aquarium. Then they traveled to Tulsa to tour Oral Roberts University (ORU). Students began the morning by participating in a guided tour at the OK Aquarium let by Education Specialist Julia Gibson. Eufaula students participated in a “Swim Into Science” tour where special aquatic tanks are held outside of the main public sections of the aquarium. They visited the quarantine area where animals are held until they are ready to move to the visitors’ side.
Gibson and other biologists were working to feed and treat the animals while students toured the facility. She explained what kinds of animals come into the aquarium from various regions of the world such as Figi and Hawaii. She also explained why some tanks hold multiple animals while others have individual tanks. A highlight for students was the coral tanks where students wore special glasses to show the luminescent abilities of the various coral species. After the “Swim Into Science” tour, students moved to the public side of the aquarium to explore the animals in the exhibits.
After lunch, Eufaula sixth graders went to Oral Roberts University to tour the campus and learn about programs offered. Student Ambassadors Ally Woods and Jill Witz led students through the large campus. The first stop was the Graduate Center, which hosts numerous classrooms, a business center set up like the TV show “Shark Tank,” as well as many dining options. As students walked through the dining center, current ORU students were welcoming and many had nice things to say about the tour guides.
“It was clear that although ORU is a large campus, it has a family like feel, and students know each other well,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo.
Next students got an elevated look of campus inside the Prayer Tower. Here they could explore the many buildings on campus and see an aerial view of how spread out the campus is. The Student Ambassadors explained how this is an observation deck and an ideal place for students to reflect and pray. It is a quiet place that students can gain perspective on their faith and recharge their minds. The final stop of the tour was the Armand Hammer Alumni Center. Students explored the lobby area where there were ping-pong tables, charging station and other random “hang-out” areas where students can comfortably study or socialize.
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.