PAHS junior attends university program

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/30/00.

Wendy Bennett Wendy Bennett (right in picture), 17, spent five weeks this summer at the University of Minnesota exploring calculus, computer programing, science, and engineering.

Bennett was among 25 students from around the world who attended the Summer Explorations in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics at the Institute of Technology at the university's Twin Cities campus from June 18 to July 22.

A junior at Paynesville Area High School this fall, Bennett was recommended for the program by two of her teachers, Jay Thompson and Bill Brinkman. "Wendy is a self-motivated young woman and very inquisitive," explained Thompson, a high school science teacher.

The first four hours of each day was spent learning calculus, Bennett said. Some of the students had precalculus before entering the program, but everything was new for her. The afternoons were filled with workshops.

One workshop dealt with the shape of space. The high school students explored the fourth and fifth dimension of space and hypercubes. "It was a weird concept to understand, but fun," she said. "Few understood it well," she added. Bennett enjoyed the shape of space segment the most during the five weeks.

Bennett eventually wants to become a college science professor. She hopes to specialize in astronomy and physics.

Another afternoon they experimented with computer programming, also a new experience for Bennett. "We made animated cartoons. I would draw something and it turned into a three-dimensional character," she said. The students also traveled to Duluth where they explored igneous rocks. "It was neat to see different rock formations," Bennett said. The students were told Duluth was once part of an ocean basin that extended to Kansas. At one time, there was also volcanic action near Duluth, which left black rocks by one harbor.

Another day they went to Valleyfair to test the rides for speed and motion. "Of course, we tried most of the rides," she said.

Bennett said they also learned about engineering and its specialties. Their big engineering project was the construction of a solar vehicle. "Each day we concentrated on a different part of the car. Among them were solar panels, electrical and mechanical engineering," she added.

On the last day of the school, a mock run was held with the solar vehicle. "I enjoyed the program as it covered a broad variety of science topics," Bennett said.

She highly recommends other students apply for the program if they are interested in math and science. Bennett earned three college credits by completing the course.

"I learned a lot of new things this summer. It was a chance to explore different areas and see what is all involved in the different areas," Bennett said.

This school year instead of taking math classes at PAHS, Bennett will be taking part in the U of M Talented Youth Math Program at St. John's University on Thursday evenings. She will earn high school and college credit through the program. Return to Archives