SPICE Science Fair this Sat in Willamette Hall

I’m no engineer, but it was the UVa Engineering School’s annual open house that made me want to be one. UO’s version is this Saturday:

Kids from across Lane County will fill Willamette Hall with homemade rockets, lasers and futuristic machines on Saturday, March 10, for the 2018 Science and Invention Fair.

The UO’s Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence, also known as SPICE, is staging the event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The participating young scientists are students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The fair is open to the public, who can enjoy free popcorn and try out the science activity tables. It typically draws around 200 visitors and 45-70 projects.

More good news about UO SAIL

From the Industrial Designers Society of America website:



University of Oregon’s Department of Product Design set SAIL in summer 2017 with a new addition to week-long programs designed to help high school students explore career paths. A product design undergraduate student in UO’s College of Design taught the next generation of designers during the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning. That included lessons on manufacturing and fabrication of consumer products; packaging; 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) tools; laser cutters; 3D printers; and more.

Eric Wilks, supported by SAIL counselors, led high schoolers to design passive speakers for cell phones. They brainstormed possible designs, then chose, as a group of 20 (per week), which design to make. Wilks created a SolidWorks model. The group reviewed the model and modified if necessary. Then each high school student would print two designs, keeping one of the speakers while the other was sold in a summer pop-up shop in downtown Eugene!

… “We wanted to be a part of UO’s SAIL program because it is so well-run and has such a fantastic reputation,” says Associate Professor Kiersten Muenchinger, IDSA, head of the Department of Product Design. “We’re committed to K–12 outreach, and SAIL adds an important summer camp piece to our Unparalleled workshops and Product of Eugene mentorship programs that occur during the school year.”

UO SAIL program brings 340 diverse HS students to campus to learn about college

KEZI has a good if brief video report on SAIL here. KLCC has a report here, and Around the O here.

SAIL is UO’s largest and most successful diversity initiative. The goal is to get more HS students that “should go to college, but are not now on the college track” into college. SAIL focuses on recruiting local students from low-SES families with parents who are not college graduates. As a result our students are considerably more diverse than the typical UO student on just about every metric.

SAIL gives students week-long summer day camps focused on an academic subject, interlaced with talks about how to get into college and get financial aid. Each camp is led by one or two UO faculty, with help from others in their department and from UO’s OA’s and staff. The camps are free to the students. Donors pay the staff and the undergraduate helpers (they are fabulous), and all the faculty volunteer their time.

SAIL started in 2005 with one camp (Economics) and 13 HS freshman students. The next summer those students went on to a camp organized by Psychology, then to Physics and Human Physiology, then Journalism. Meanwhile the Economics department started a new cohort each year. When they start, most of our students have never been on the UO campus, have no parent or grandparent who has graduated from college, and have never met a professor. The idea behind SAIL is that after 4 years of summers on the UO campus, enrolling in college would seem like the natural next step rather than something scary and unfamiliar. The data bears this out: the students who go through SAIL are representative of their HS peers on most measures, but after SAIL they are twice as likely to go to college.

This year SAIL had 340 students and 15 camps. For the full list of academic subjects, along with info on how to help out next year, see the SAIL website here.

And while SAIL does a lot to help students, most volunteers report that they have also learned a few things from the SAIL students. Don’t worry, UOM is not going to go all maudlin on you, but I will say that damn did I have it easy growing up, and if you want to learn something about why the arts matter, as I have, come to the Performing Arts Camp performance this Friday at 2PM, in the amphitheater on the north side of SOMD.

Crowdfunding for two worthy faculty initiatives

Dear CAS Colleagues,

In case you haven’t heard, I want you to be aware of an innovative fundraising campaign currently underway that will benefit two CAS programs.

The campaign, called DuckFunder, is a crowdfunding approach that aims to attract lots of small gifts (and even some large ones) for very focused projects. This is a six-week campaign, now entering its final few days. It will wrap up Friday, May 19.

This year, two CAS projects were selected:

· SPICE, a summer program that inspires teen girls to stay engaged in STEM studies https://duckfunder.uoregon.edu/project/6299 Fundraising goal = $8,000

· Team Duckling, a psychology research team that studies how children learn and grow. https://duckfunder.uoregon.edu/project/6248 Fundraising goal = $10,000

I will be making a personal donation to both of these worthy projects and encourage you to:

· Visit one of the links above and consider making a small donation that will help them reach their goal

· Help get the word out by clicking on one of the social share icons at the top of the SPICE or Team Duckling crowdfunding pages (links above) to share with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter or email.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for next year’s DuckFunder campaign, you can submit an application here: http://giving.uoregon.edu/s/1540/development/3col.aspx?sid=1540&gid=2&pgid=4628&cid=9736

Thank you for considering this request.

Warm regards, Andrew

W. Andrew Marcus
Tykeson Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
University of Oregon

SAIL duckfunder campaign needs you

SAIL is UO’s largest faculty led volunteer program. Faculty teach low-SES and first generation HS students in free week long summer day-camps on the UO campus, to show them what college is like and how they can succeed at it. Last summer we had 10 camps, 200+ students, and ~100 volunteers. You can volunteer here, and to donate click here or click the image:

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UO starts crowdfunding campaign for SAIL program

SAIL is UO’s faculty volunteer led program to encourage low-SES first generation students to go to college, by bringing them to campus for free summer day-camps on different academic subjects. They meet a lot of faculty and undergraduate mentors, and come back every summer during HS for a different camp, so by the time they graduate High School college is the natural next step not something risky or odd.

The UO Advancement office has helped set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to expand SAIL.  Here, or click the image to find out more and donate online.

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Around the O has more here. If you are UO faculty or staff you can find out how to volunteer here.

Oregon gets a D on helping its children succeed, what you can do

Betsy Hammond has the story in the Oregonian. 40th out of 50 states, by the most optimistic measure. 50th out of 50 by another. What can a UO professor do to help fix this? Organize a summer UO SAIL camp for your department, to help low SES Oregon students learn about college, work to get into college, and succeed in college. About 15% of UO faculty are already volunteering. (Full disclosure: economic research shows that telling other people that the norm is to behave altruistically increases altruism.)

UC-Irvine spends $7M a year on "fill the pipeline" programs

5/8/2013: The NYT discusses California’s extensive programs to respond to the ban on racially explicit affirmative-action programs for admissions with low SES “fill the pipeline” programs:

The results of California’s efforts offer some measure of satisfaction to supporters and critics alike. Both sides hail the U.C. system’s strides toward economic — and not just racial — diversity; opponents of affirmative action claim that as vindication of their argument that it primarily benefits middle-class minority members. Supporters of race-conscious admissions acknowledge that the system has reversed the initial decline in black and Hispanic enrollment, though they say that is not enough. Whatever the merits of race-blind admissions, gifted poor and minority students are less likely than others to take the right classes to be eligible for college admission, to take the SAT or ACT, to get academic help when they need it, to fill out complex forms properly or to apply to competitive colleges. 

So California’s public universities, and some of their counterparts around the country, have embedded themselves deeply in disadvantaged communities, working with schools, students and parents to identify promising teenagers and get more of them into college. 

It is not enough, university administrators say, to change the way they select students; they must also change the students themselves, and begin to do so long before the time arrives to fill out applications.

This perfectly captures the reasons UO faculty volunteers started the SAIL program in 2007. The story notes that UC-Irvine, President Gottfredson’s old school, now spends $7 million a year on these efforts:

The University of California, Irvine, alone spends more than $7 million a year on that outreach, with a few hundred people working on it — mostly part time, and not always for pay — and reaching into dozens of poor neighborhoods in its region, said Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, director of the university’s Center for Educational Partnerships.

And here’s the sort of story we hear a lot from our SAIL students:

“Do you have to baby-sit your brothers and sisters all the time, or cook for them, or go work with your parents?” Ms. Flores asked a group of students, about half of whom raised their hands. “My mom used to make me go with her to clean houses on the weekends. I hated it. That’s why I went to college.” 

“But that’s what you put on the part of the application that asks for activities and volunteering,” she said. “Because if you don’t tell them, they’ll think you didn’t do anything.”

Fortunately SAIL is a lot cheaper than $7 million, and thanks to two UO economics honors students, we now have good empirical evidence of large increases in college attendance, comparing local HS students who have gone through it with those who have not. (And yes, we test for selection effects.)

No rich child left behind

From the NYT:

… consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000. [He should be looking at the income dist of families w/ children, but you get the idea.]

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race. 

The same pattern is evident in other, more tangible, measures of educational success, like college completion. In a study similar to mine, Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski, economists at the University of Michigan, found that the proportion of students from upper-income families who earn a bachelor’s degree has increased by 18 percentage points over a 20-year period, while the completion rate of poor students has grown by only 4 points.

UO has several programs to help reduce the college enrollment and completion gaps: SAIL, OYSP, and PathwayOregon come to mind. Some focus on on income, some on race and ethnicity. It’s all good. You’re part of UO? Pick one, and volunteer to help. (Thanks to John Topanga for the tweet). 4/27/2013.

Kitzhaber to sign bill giving children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition

From “Around the O”:

University of Oregon student Edith Gomez will join Gov. John Kitzhaber, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and others Tuesday morning (April 2) when the governor signs into law the state’s so-called tuition equity bill.

Gomez, a general science major at the UO, testified in favor of the bill two months ago, along with UO President Michael Gottfredson and others. It was supported by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon and by the Oregon Student Association.

The legislation, House Bill 2787, was approved by a large majority in both chambers of the legislature. It will grant in-state tuition eligibility to undocumented students who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years; graduated from an Oregon high school after studying there for at least three years; been accepted to an Oregon university; and shown an intention to become a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

The Oregonian reports on the decade long fight to make this happen. Congratulations to all who did it. Now let’s get these students into UO, and graduated with a degree that will get them a job. Speaking of which, here’s a very interesting NY Times story on recent research showing how straightforward it is to get top low-SES students to go to top colleges: give them information and tuition discounts. 4/1/2013.