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Upward Bound Project-Based Learning Program Returns this Summer to Cal Poly

June 5, 2018

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s TRIO Upward Bound will host its second annual project-based learning (PBL) program for local high school students, beginning June 18.

The six-week program is a part of Upward Bound’s Residential Summer Academy at Cal Poly, which aims to provide a college-like experience for local 10th- to 12th-grade students, including on-campus living, dining, classes and group projects.

The PBL program serves as a component of the six-week experience and seeks to better connect students to the community by having them work with local organizations on a variety of projects. Students work in small groups to address each participating organization’s needs by developing a budget, a written proposal, an elevator pitch and a finalized prototype or solution, which will be presented at the conclusion of academy.

This year’s participating organizations include One Cool Earth, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, Cal Poly Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME), and Jack’s Helping Hand.

“Students are given real-life problems and, through guided discovery, create real-life solutions,” said Upward Bound Director Susie Sandstrom. “Just like Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy, project-based learningoffers a powerful combination of academic expertise and hands-on experience for students.”

The academy’s emphasis on project-based learning seeks to improve students’ critical-thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills, among other benefits.

“Over the past two years, the Upward Bound team has completely redesigned the summer academy to provide more intentional programming such as project-based learning, which helps students prepare for college,” said Mardel Baldwin, assistant director for Student Academic Services. “This intentional change allows students to have a meaningful experience that they can carry with them as they pursue their future.”

Academy partners include the Cal Poly School of Education and New Tech Central Coast High School, which provide aspiring teachers with hands-on classroom experience during the six-week session. Instructional components of the summer academy are funded in part by the The Cotchett Endowment for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teacher Education.

About TRIO Upward Bound

Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program that provides fundamental support to 95 local economically disadvantaged, first-generation high school students who are college bound. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which students complete secondary education and enrolling and graduating from institutions of postsecondary education. Services include a residential summer academy, tutoring, career advisement, supplemental instruction, and cultural and recreational activities. For more information, visit

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