Collaboration Encourages STEM Exploration

(Bradenton, Fla., Jan 28, 2020) — Nearly 40 teens from six area high schools visited State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) Jan. 24 to participate in hands-on lab experience, tour the Bradenton campus and get a glimpse of college life as part of the College Reach-Out Program (CROP), in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Bridge to the Baccalaureate program (TB B2B).

 The day focused on science-related activities developed and led by SCF’s B2B scholars, including dissecting pig hearts, changing the color of pennies to gold, and building a small functioning catapult from rubber bands and popsicle sticks. 

A high school student works on assembling a miniature catapult during STEM Day at SCF Jun. 24.Kristen L. Anderson, program director of special programs at SCF, says the goal of STEM Day at SCF is to whet students’ appetites for learning. “I hope this sparks an interest in possible STEM careers,” she said. Anderson has been working with College Reach-Out Program students since 1994, which includes regular programming at high schools as well as college tours.

“They’ve been teaching me a lot about college and learning,” said Sophia, a 10th grader from Palmetto High School, as she assembled her catapult. She said she would like to go to college but wasn’t exactly sure what she would like to study. “Forensic science, maybe. Anything in the medical field would be interesting.”

At the other end of a lab table, Yesica Lopez, a December 2019 graduate of SCF, was helping other students. Lopez was a CROP student when she was in high school. She’s a member of the B2B program, taking classes in preparation to enter the University of South Florida’s biomedical program. She volunteered as an instructor for the day’s activities.   

Lopez said as a first-generation college student, the CROP program was an invaluable resource. “They gave me so much information. It’s an amazing program. It set me on a path for success.” Lopez said she volunteers to give something back. “If I see even one student, it really makes me happy.” 

CROP is a state-funded program designed to help and encourage low-income, educationally disadvantaged students to not only finish high school, but to graduate from college. The Bridge to the Baccalaureate program is focused on increasing the number of underrepresented minority students completing a bachelor’s degree in a STEM program. It is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

 For more information about the CROP program, visit To learn more about B2B, visit

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