Wentworth RAMP is a STEM-focused, pre-college summer bridge program for Boston students coming in to Wentworth Institute of Technology as freshmen in the fall.
Reviewing the schedule at the beginning of the day is helpful to ensure programming runs smoothly.
While staff guidance is important in program organization, allowing students the independence to choose the proper behavior is also key–especially when working with older students.
Hands-on activities that incorporate technology are generally more engaging than straightforward, academic instruction, so students are more inclined to stay on task.
Good communication between staff when preparing for programming ensures that all materials will be ready when students arrive.
Q: How do you ensure that activities are able to start without a long delay?
A: At the beginning of every day, we start by reviewing the schedule so students are reminded, even though they have access to the schedule on a Google Calendar they can look at in real time on their phones. We’ve also hired upperclassmen who have been through the program to serve as mentors. The mentors work with the groups to advise them, and the Program Coordinator oversees all of them. One of his biggest tasks is to make sure the students are transitioning to the different pieces of the program and making sure that they’re on task.
We are working with an older population—they’re coming into college—so some of what we do is make sure they’re working independently. As much as we have these pieces built in to help remind them of what to do, a piece of what we’re doing is also to put a little bit of ownership on the students because once they start here in the fall there won’t be anybody saying to them, “Hey there’s class in 10 minutes.” It’s a balance.
Q: How do you keep kids engaged in the activities?
A: We try to make things very hands-on, so we’ve changed the program over the last couple of years. One year we had a math, a science, and an English class. We look for a lot of feedback from students, and they expressed that those were not the most engaging courses. Trying to build in the math and science in a different way, we started this year instead with a course called “How to Make Almost Anything,” which integrates math and science concepts in a hands-on activity. Students learn how to use 3-D printing, laser scanning, and they did a small engine clinic which was taking apart an engine and putting it back together. So we try to build in pieces that are very hands-on, which we think has kept students a little bit more interested.
Q: How do you prepare sufficient materials to ensure students don’t have to wait a long time to use them?
A: I coordinated with faculty to make sure that materials were all purchased. Where we are an institution of higher education, we have a little bit more access to some more resources—we have laptops for all the students that they’re able to use for their projects. So I think we’re in a position, funding wise, that we’re able to purchase the materials so that students have them.
Wentworth RAMP is a six-week summer bridge program for Boston residents who will enter Wentworth Institute of Technology as first-year students in the fall. Upperclassmen serve as mentors to the students, and the program helps familiarize the incoming freshmen with Wentworth’s campus, professors, students, and courses. Students are offered stipends for their work on hands-on, community-based projects over the summer, where they foster relationships with peers.