Welcome to the Sunshine State!

Welcome to the Sunshine State! Upward Bound students who had successfully completed the 2016 Summer Academy; had outstanding grades, attendance, and attitude; and had written an essay on a topic pertaining to the state of Florida were eligible to participate in this year's spring merit trip.

Their jam-packed, four-day trip was one to remember! Immediately after landing in Orlando, students toured the University of Central Florida (UCF). The TRIO program representatives at the university did an awesome job in welcoming us and providing us with a great tour and information about UCF. . . . go Knights! IUPUI Upward Bound students also quickly determined if year-round heat and small lizards are for them. Later the first day, Upward Bound students arrived at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), ready to take on an educational scavenger hunt and see some of the country's great history and future of space travel. Students not only toured NASA but also had the opportunity to speak with retired NASA employees from the 1950s and 1960s. The retired NASA employees spoke about their dreams, even as kids, of working at NASA.

Katherine Johnson has always been someone I admired, even before Hidden Figures, so being here is just amazing!

Kierstyn Roberts

Before the kid inside every Upward Bound student was released, they spent the next morning with a representative of Disney's Youth Education Series at Magic Kingdom exploring the what, why, and how of rides and how they operate. Students were able to provide their theories of how different rides operate and then test their theories by having the ultimate experience of riding the attractions without standing in line! 

Two Upward Bound students standing by a cannon.

Upward Bound student Edgar Barbon said, "They were very interesting and very informative science experiments." Who knew science could be so fun and fast! The next day, students were off to St. Augustine, followed by a visit to the University of Florida (UF). They learned that after many battles, one fort off the coast of Florida brought the world together.

Two cultures clashed 340 years ago at the Castillo de San Marcos, a clash that ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortress in the United States and one of two built out of a rare type of limestone called "coquina." "It's hard to believe people fought at such a beautiful place," stated Upward Bound student Shala Wheeler. 

The University of Florida quickly showed why the Gators devour their competition in academics as well as in athletics. UF state-of-the-art classrooms provide students everything they need to be ready for the world after graduation. Also, UF's Student Support Services (SSS) Center is ready to welcome TRIO students and ensure that they are successful while at UF. To wrap up what was a great day, Upward Bound students entered "The Swamp," which is where many fans cheer on the University of Florida Gators! Upward Bound students traveled the world without having to leave Florida when they visited Disney's Epcot Center. They were able to see, taste, touch, and enjoy different cultures from around the world. Students again completed an educational scavenger hunt before diving into many different flavors of customs from around the globe. IUPUI Upward Bound students enjoyed the experience of a lifetime and were able to take in the history, fun, education, and culture of the great state of Florida!

NASA space shuttle in Florida.
Upward Bound students at a stadium in Florida.
Florida palm tree and water.

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