PUMA Featured in Student Article in Upward Bound's Newsletter
The Princeton Center for Complex Materials' (PCCM's) Princeton University Materials Academy PUMA is a summer enrichment program for high school students in Trenton designed to inspire them about science and introduce them to the world of Materials Science. Below is an article written by PUMA student Aphrael Boltas from the newsletter one of PCCM's partners at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), Upward Bound. PCCM also partners with GEAR UP at MCCC for PUMA.
All About P.U.M.A.
by Aphrael Boltas
Wondering what P.U.M.A. stands for, and what it’s all about? P.U.M.A. stands for Princeton University Materials Academy. Each summer a handful of Upward Bound and GEAR UP students are chosen to participate in the 3 week program at Princeton University. The program is all about science and its effect on us and the world around us. During the program we listen to lectures, go on STEM –related tours, and gain an immeasurable amount of hands on experience working with many different forms of technology and other materials.
Each summer at P.U.M.A there is a new theme. I’ve been with P.U.M.A. for two summers; my first summer the theme focused on developing sustainable homes. We went on several tours to give us an idea of what it was like to design buildings with sustainability in mind. The tours showed us the effects time and environmental elements can have on buildings. As we divided into four teams composed of four students, our final project was to design our very own sustainable home, a home that would not cost money to maintain, and may even make money in the long run. This summer the theme was nanotechnology. We did different demonstrations inside the classroom to give us an example of what different nanoscale procedures would be like. We also toured a lab with a microscope that analyzes things on the nanoscale. Our final project was to design a poster about different topics in nanotechnology.
P.U.M.A. is definitely an extremely rewarding experience, one I’m sure the students who are lucky enough to attend do not soon forget. Below are two interviews; one with a former P.U.M.A. student, and one with a first year P.U.M.A. student to provide some more insight on the program.
First I interviewed three year P.U.M.A student Luis Calderon. He attended P.U.M.A in his freshman, sophomore, and junior summer. This year, for his senior summer, he was granted the opportunity to participate in an internship at Princeton University by the director of the P.U.M.A. Dr. Dan Steinberg.
Q. What is your advice for new P.U.M.A. students?
A. Stay focused, pay attention and try to learn as much as you can, for this experience will reward you greatly. Opportunities like this one are not granted to everybody and one should take full advantage of it.
Q. If you could change one thing about P.U.M.A what would it be?
A. Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing because I feel that the way P.U.M.A. works is tremendously effective and it’s what school systems should work to achieve.
Q. What is your favorite thing about P.U.M.A?
A. P.U.M.A. offers a unique style of engaging students with variations of hands-on-science and theoretical work. While I have seen this variation done in other education facilities I feel as though P.U.M.A.’s way of doing it is the best. The staff have the right attitude, timing and energy to help students develop positive attitudes from the students, which allows them to be so successful.
Next I interviewed first year P.U.M.A student Jason Deleon. Jason is currently a sophomore, and is hoping to be granted the opportunity to participate in P.U.M.A. again next year during his junior year summer.
Q. What was your first experience at P.U.M.A like?
A. It was a new experience for me. It taught me a lot of things and gave me a chance to see if I might want to go to Princeton.
Q. Do you want to attend P.U.M.A. again and why?
A. Yes because it’s a chance you won’t get in the high school, it gave me a chance to explore the university.
Q. If you could change one thing about P.U.M.A. what would you change and why?
A. Nothing really, I like everything about it, except the food, too many sandwiches.
Q. What do you think you gained from your experience at P.U.M.A.?
A. I learned a lot of stuff about nanotechnology and how it can help us out in science.