2019 UConn Avery Point Cardboard Boat Race


By Jessica Dunn 


UConn Avery Point hosted their 9th Annual Avery Point Cardboard Boat Race on September 18, 2019. With just about 350 UConn Early College Experience Students in attendance, and many UConn Avery Point Students, the event was one for the books! As in years past, undergraduate students, UConn ECE Students, faculty, and staff prepared for the event by spending many hours constructing boats out of cardboard and duct tape with the hope to stay afloat on race day. Participants gathered at Eastern Point Beach in Groton, Connecticut and were tasked with paddling their boat (by hand or actual paddle) around the marked course and crossing the finish line to qualify for an award.


Although the boat race was the main attraction of the day, UConn ECE Students also spent time on the UConn Avery Point Campus. UConn ECE Students were given a warm welcome by Dr, Annemarie Seifert, the UConn Avery Point Campus Director; attended academic lectures with University facultyand staff; engaged in discussions with fellow UConn ECE Students; and explored a portion of the Connecticut Blue Heritage Trail, an interactive maritime heritage trail, all before indulging in lunch, and heading to the beach to race!

This year the boat race theme was Historic Boats, and many teams came prepared with creative boat names and original designs such as “Jolly Roger Penrose the (Pi)rate” from the UConn ECE Physics class at Emmett O’Brien Technical High School. We had a total of 25 boats compete, representing 15 different high schools across the state: Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture High School, East Lyme High School, Ellington High School, Emmett O’Brien Technical High School, Glastonbury High School, Ledyard High School, Lyman Hall High School, NFA, Science & Technical Magnet High School, Shelton High School, The Masters School, University High School, Waterford High School, and Wilby High School.


Teams were recognized for team spirit and best boat design, as well as placing in the races. For the second year in a row Westbrook High School’s UConn ECE Physics team brought home the trophy for first place in the UConn ECE Championship Race with their “Westbrook Turtle II”. Ledyard High School’s UConn ECE Marine Science team in the “Mayflower” brought home 2nd place, and Waterford High School’s UConn ECE Physics team in the “Exxon Valdez” brought home 3rd place.

UConn Chemistry and ECE Hold First UConn CT-JAPAN Photochemistry Workshop



By Dr. Tomoyasu Mani 


On October 29th and 30th, UConn Chemistry held the first CT-JAPAN photochemistry workshop for high school students. The two-day workshop was held in conjunction with the visit of five high school students and two teachers of Matsuyama Minami High School from Ehime Prefecture, Japan. Fifty high school students from The Woodstock Academy attended the workshop. The workshop was organized by Prof. Tomoyasu Mani with the help from Prof. Fatma Selampinar and graduate assistants. The students from the two countries attended lectures by Prof. Mani and afterwards jointly performed experiments, learning new chemistry (photon upconversion on Day 1 and charge-transfer absorption on Day 2) and at the same time fostering friendship and cultural understanding. The agenda and the materials of the workshop (lecture slides and experiment procedures) are available online. The workshop was in part supported by the Department of Chemistry and UConn Early College Experience. Japanese high school travel was supported by the Japan Science and Technology through the Super Science High School program.


Celebrating Languages with UConn ECE


by Jessica Dunn 


Congratulations to the following high schools for participating in the 2019 UConn ECE Student Language events:


Bristol Central High School  Nathan Hale Ray High School 
Cheshire High School  Newington High School 
Coventry High School  Norwich Free Academy 
Edwin O. Smith High School  North Haven High School 
Glastonbury High School RHAM High School 
Granby Memorial High School Staples High School 
Lewis S. Mills High School 


November was UConn Early College Experience’s month of celebrating languages! For the first time, UConn Early College Experience hosted three different Language Immersion Days which included a competitive Quiz Bowl to culminate each event.


We started our celebrations with our 19th annual UConn ECE French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition on November 13, 2019, closely followed by our new UConn ECE German Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition on November 14th, and wrapped up with our new UConn ECE Italian Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition on November 22nd.


For each event, UConn ECE Students from across the state came together on the UConn Storrs Campus for a day of immersion and fun competition in the respective language of the event. In the morning of each event, students participated in academic sessions with department specific UConn teaching assistants and competed in a Quiz Bowl Competition in the afternoon. The academic sessions reflected the interests of the TAs, and all lessons were given in the respective language of the event. Each participating high school put forth a team of up to four UConn ECE Students to compete in the afternoon Quiz Bowl Competitions, which were moderated in French, German, or Italian. The Students were then required to answer in the same language that the questions were presented to them in.


All day, students were given the opportunity to be culturally immersed in the language by practicing their vocabulary and pronunciation, tuning their ears to new voices speaking foreign languages, learning about different cultures, and interacting with other Connecticut high school students who have a passion for learning a second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) language. With just about 250 students in attendance for all three events, it was apparent the Students were very enthusiastic about being at the UConn Storrs Campus and excited to engage with the UConn ECE Faculty and Staff over a love of languages.


As this was the first year for the German and Italian Immersion Days and Quiz Bowl Competitions, we look forward to these events growing and becoming annual events as French has for many years. With UConn courses in Chinese, Latin, and Spanish as well, we hope to grow the number of student events in the languages in the future.

2018-2019 UConn ECE Professional Development Awards


By Jessica Dunn


This year there were many outstanding nominees, reflecting the high enthusiasm and support the UConn Early College Experience community has for one another and the program. UConn ECE Instructors and Administrators were nominated by their colleagues and students for their exemplary instruction and management of the UConn ECE program. This year nine Professional Development Award winners were selected, across six different award categories, which only happens every few years. We typically present awards in five different categories, but were privileged this year to present a well-deserved Award for Outstanding Research in the Field of Concurrent Enrollment to Kathrine Grant, a UConn undergraduate. Kathrine is only the second person in UConn ECE's history to be presented with this award.


We recognized all award winners at our annual Awards Ceremony in April, presenting them with a plaque and a monetary award over a celebratory dinner with family, friends, and colleagues. It was a night full of admiration and appreciation for the dedication each award winner displays day in and out for their high schools and their students. All award winners have exceeded the program expectations and excelled in preparing their students for the next level in their education.


The UConn Early College Experience program would not be successful without passionate and dedicated Instructors and Administrators. It is a true honor to work alongside such enthusiastic educators who go above and beyond program expectations and work tirelessly for the well-being and success of their students. On behalf of all of us at UConn ECE, we applaud our Instructors and Administrators from across the state for their hard work and dedication to the program, and we are forever grateful for you.


We are pleased to announce our 2018-2019 UConn ECE Professional Development Award winners:
Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership
Nalini Ravishanker, Statistics
Site Representative Award for Excellence in Program Administration
Seth Korn, Newington High School
Principal Award for Program Support and Advocacy
Mary Kay Tshonas, Quinebaug Middle College
Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Alina Britchi, Physics - Westbrook High School
J. Mark Peters, European History - Shepaug Valley High School
Peter Vermilyea, u S History - Housatonic Valley Regional High School
Sara Dziedzic, Human Rights & Political Science - The Woodstock Academy
"Rookie of the Year" Award for Excellence in First-Year Course Instruction
Kristina Sluzewski, Human Development and Family Studies - Wilton High School
Award for Outstanding Research in the Field of Concurrent Enrollment
Kathrine Grant, UConn Undergraduate


UConn ECE Science Days


by Kathrine Grant & Dr. Fatma Selampinar


UConn Early College Experience collaborated with Chemistry Faculty Coordinator Dr. Fatma Selampinar (UConn ECE) and other department faculty to host two Science Activity Days at UConn Storrs. On April 25 and May 17, UConn opened its doors to over 100 high school students from The Woodstock Academy and Berlin, 0. H. Platt, Daniel Hand, and Watertown High Schools for a day of science lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on laboratory activities.


The April 25th Science Activity Day was coordinated by the UConn Early College Experience Program Office and Dr. Selampinar, with science activities hosted by Dr. Rouge and  Dr. Ung and their graduate students (Alyssa H., Saketh G., Mark T., Kaitlynn A., Erin B., Nishya M., and Rebecca F.). To kick off  the day's events, the high school students learned about how an interest in chemistry can prepare them for a  variety of job paths, including working in a lab as a researcher someday. In the afternoon the students broke into two sections to learn about molecules that can fluorescence and about biomacromolecules that can build structures at the nanoscale. During Dr. Ung's activities, students were taught an overview of the principles of fluorescence and how light interacts with molecules. They made glow sticks and were exposed to scientific thinking. The students were asked to determine why molecules glowed and made simple hypotheses that they verified experimentally. Later, the students gathered and shared the results of their experiments to conclude the relationship between chemical structure and a molecule's ability to glow.


During Dr. Rouge's lab activities, students learned about how polar charged molecules interact differently with DNA than hydrophobic molecules and that hydrophobic dyes can be chemically tailored to dock into DNA for tracking in a variety of applications. After learning the basic properties of DNA, the students were asked to predict what would happen to DNA when subjected to various conditions, including when DNA is assembled on a nanoparticle. At the end of the activity students were able to interpret their own data and compare their results to other groups.


The May 17 Science Activity Day was also coordinated by the UConn ECE Program Office and Dr. Selampinar, with science activities hosted by Dr. Adamson, Dr. Kumar, Dr. Lin, and Dr. Zhao and their students (Megan P., Ankarao K., Jean B., Mansi M., Stephen K., Arlene B., Elizabeth B., Prabodha A. and Deepthi V). The morning started with the presentations given by Dr. Adamson, Dr. Benson, and Dr. Lin. After a series of presentations, the students broke into four sections in which they learned about nanoparticles. In Dr. Kumar's workshop on nanomaterials, the lab group presented the synthesis of protein-based nanoparticles and the use of dynamic light scattering to determine their sizes. The students were able to discover and learn about how nanoparticles are formed, how they are characterized, and the possible uses of nano­materials as opposed to bulk materials.


Drs. Lin and Zhao's activities involved synthesizing gold nanoparticles and testing the nanoparticles obtained to see whether their color changes when salt or sugar is added to the solution. In this experiment, students learned that noble metal nanoparticles exhibit unique optical properties compared to the bulk material. In other words, the color of the nanoparticles are different from the bulk. For example, a solution of gold nanoparticles may look red instead of yellow. The students were also able to visualize individual gold nanoparticles with a state-of-the-art optical microscope.


Dr. Adamson's activities involved methods for exfoliating ( or unstacking) both graphite and boron nitride without resorting to harsh chemical treatments or added stabilizers. In this experiment, two-dimensional sheets, each a single atom thick, are stacked up like a deck of cards to form materials such as graphite and boron nitride. Unstacking these decks of cards is difficult but would provide very high surface area materials with uses as conductive transparent films or nano-fillers for polymer composites. Students learned about how these processes rely on an interfacial kinetic trapping technique that takes advantage of mismatches in solvent surface tensions and results in a dramatic climbing phenomenon of single sheets of material on glass slides.


Since the Chemistry Department and UConn ECE started hosting these Science Days filled with hands­on activities, demonstrations, and lectures, the interest from high schools and high school students has increased. These kinds of activities spark the students' interest in chemistry as they are seeing the real face of chemistry in a laboratory setting as well as learning what it means to study the subject at the collegiate level. After beginning these Days, the department has begun receiving e-mails from students interested in doing research in a lab over the summer or in joining a research group when they come to UConn.

Avery Point Cardboard Boat Race 2017


The 2017-2018 academic year was off to a strong start. On September 27, 2017, the ECE Marine Sciences, Maritime Studies, Physics and Engineering students participated in the 7th annual UConn Avery Point Cardboard Boat Race. The event is always a fun and exciting time filled with lots of laughs. This year we had about 450 students and instructors in attendance.
Participating in this year’s event were twenty one partner high schools:Waterford High School, Marine Science Magnet High School, Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut, Manchester High School, University High School, Westbrook High School, Norwich Free Academy, Shelton High School, Windham Tech, Lyman Hall High School, H.C. Wilcox Tech, Kaynor Tech, Glastonbury High School, Ellington High School, Bridgeport Aquaculture, Enfield High School, Hartford Engineering and Green Tech, Emmett O’Brien Tech, Ledyard High school, Northwestern Regional High School and Daniel Hand High School. The team from H.C. Wilcox Technical High School won first place in the UConn ECE Championship Division.


Cardboard Boat Race 2017 Cardboard Boat Race 2017

2017 UConn ECE French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition

On November 1, 2017, UConn Early College Experience held this year’s French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition. We enjoyed the company of Nathan Hale Ray High School, Coventry High School, Lewis S. Mills High School, RHAM High School, Portland High School and Norwich Free Academy ECE French students as they competed for the Quiz Bowl Champion. Taking home first place in this year’s Quiz Bowl Competition was RHAM High School, followed by Portland High School in second place, and Norwich Free Academy in third place. The competition put the knowledge of the French ECE students to the test, but they all performed well and showed their love for the course. Congratulations to all participants for taking on the challenge of broadening your French expertise.
Quiz Bowl Winners 2017

2016 UConn ECE French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl Competition

On November 3, 2016, students from the following high schools, Cheshire, Rockville, Coventry, EO Smith, RHAM, Glastonbury, Portland and Southington participated in the 2016 UConn ECE French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl competition. The day was full of education and fun for these UConn ECE French students and their instructors. First place went to Glastonbury, second place went to E.O. Smith and third place went to Rockville High School. Congratulations!
French Quiz Bowl Winter 2017

New ECE Student Art Show in 2017

UConn ECE and the UConn School of Fine Arts are pleased to announce they will be co-sponsoring a prestigious art show featuring the work of UConn ECE students. The showing will take place in the gallery at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts from May 15th until July 15th with a gala opening on Saturday, May 27th from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. More information about the show and opening event will be available on our website in January.

Events: Knights Paddle to Gold

By Randy Philavong, Emily Wheeler, Catherine Bedson, and Melody Crane
Groton, CT- Ellington High School students claimed victory in UConn’s annual Cardboard Boat Races on
September 22, 2016 at UConn Avery Point campus.
UConn Early College Experience (ECE) students from all around the state gathered to compete in the university’s sixth annual cardboard boat competition. Ellington High School received its first invitation to participate in the event after the competition initially began.
Three to four days prior to the race, ECE Physics students at Ellington High designed and built their boats only using cardboard and duct tape. Students looked back the design process as difficult but highly successful.
“It was an enjoyable experience building the Piece of Ship, but picturing what the boat would end up looking like was difficult.” said Cat Bedson, senior at Ellington High School. “There were so many different components but it ended up coming together nicely!”
The students produced four, of many, cardboard boats to compete in the race: The Bass Kickers, Piece
of Ship, E=m(sea)2, and Shake Your Boaty, Nauti Buoy.
Ellington High School’s ECE Physics teacher, Justin DeCormier, explains the event as a great opportunity to teach students about the physics revolving around buoyancy in a competitive way.
“This is a grand opportunity for us to practice team building and real world applications of classroom
knowledge, engineering, teamwork, and focus,” said DeCormier.
The race included four heats of cardboard boats. Current UConn Physics’ students were to participate in the first heat. Followed by two heats of high school students and the fourth heat being the championship race.
Colby Unterstein, senior at Ellington, piloted Piece of Ship that started the race with a commanding lead and maintained that lead by finishing first in heat one. Unfortunately, the other Ellington boat, Shake Your Boaty, Nauti Buoy, could not finish in the top three of the heat.
In heat two, Ellington’s E=m(sea)2 looked to place second in the race but in the final stretch, pilots, Tessa Webb and Matt Phillips, made a dramatic comeback giving Ellington another first place ranking. Sadly, another Ellington boat could not participate in the race due to their boat sinking.
In the final heat, Piece of Ship, E=m(sea)2, and other boats from other schools competed for the overall  champion. Unterstein pulled another commanding lead as Piece of Ship became the only candidate to stay afloat, while the other boats, sadly, fell apart or sank.
Unterstein commented that his experience as the pilot meant a lot to him and his school.
“It was a true honor to win such a prestigious award for my school.” said Unterstein. “I know it meant
a lot to the students and teachers involved.”
There is no doubt Ellington’s competitive spirit has helped them achieve success.
Ellington Cardboard Boat Race Winners