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Although Santa Clara University (SCU) might officially be on summer break, the campus grounds and Recital Hall were filled with the sounds of students during what, for many, was their first visit to a college campus on July 19. The event was a collaboration between Texas Instruments (TI) and Family Giving Tree (FGT) as they hosted an afternoon of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, aka “STEM in the Schoolyard” for Downtown College Prep (DCP) students.

The event served as a way to promote FGT’s Annual Back to School Backpack Drive as well as the culmination of DCP Alum Rock’s Summer Bridge Program for incoming, low-income 6th grade students. The program schedule had students and their families participate in STEM activities and listen to speeches by dignitaries from TI, FGT, SCU, elected officials and a DCP and SCU graduate. Each DCP student, who will be the first in their family to go to college, was given a backpack filled with age-appropriate school supplies provided by FGT and a TI-30XS Multiview Scientific Calculator donated by TI. Schmahl Science Workshops led a series of hands-on science experiments throughout the day that included experimenting (and playing, albeit safely) with liquid nitrogen; experimenting with soapy water and chunks of dry ice and “Bandana Chromatography,” an experiment involving rubbing alcohol, permanent markers and t-shirts.

While the students oooh’d and aaah’d at seeing how science can be fun – it’s not everyday you can use a banana to hammer in a nail – the real excitement came at the end of the program when the students were brought on stage and received their school supplies. For more information on DCP, visit www.dcp.org. For more information on FGT, visit www.FamilyGivingTree.org.

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