Outer space can feel like a giant leap for a kid who has never even traveled across the country.
But for a group of North Idaho high school students, two Upward Bound programs run by the University of Idaho have put the stars within reach.
Over the past two summers, about 40 students experienced simulated space flight and zero gravity at NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama — the culmination of a curriculum meant to spark their interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The summer curriculum geared toward soon-to-be first-generation college students was “by far the best one we’ve ever done,” said Arielle Horan, director of UI’s Silver Valley Upward Bound program.
The Upward Bound project is one of seven federally funded TRIO projects that are operated by the UI College of Education as a means to provide educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic status. The space-themed program began in summer 2015. A group of students from Kellogg and Wallace spent time at UI’s Moscow campus and North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene to study sociology, science, literature and foreign language, all with a space emphasis. The success of the curriculum spawned its adoption by another Upward Bound program, Bridge Idaho, in 2016.