In 2010 the American Honda Science Opportunity Program (AHSOP) was created through a $100,000 endowment donated to California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) by the American Honda Motor Co., Inc., to provide college-level science courses, textbooks and course materials for CAMS students free of charge.
AHSOP provides so many benefits for our students, and one of the most substantial is the increased college-level rigor they develop as they progress in the program,”
said Christopher Brown, principal for the California Academy of Math and Science (CAMS) high school, at the recent IDP Expo, which CAMS puts on to showcase interdisciplinary projects created by students. “Several have come back and said that they have taken so many college-level courses at Cal State Dominguez Hills that nothing is a surprise.”
Each year, 48 CAMS students are accepted into the AHSOP program, with nearly 300 students completing the program since the 2010-2011 academic year. The program is a complete cohort-model science curriculum that features a full complement of college-level science courses beginning with an introduction to college chemistry in the summer of the students’ sophomore year. It continues with the addition of biology and physics classes in subsequent summers and throughout the semesters in their junior and senior years.
“Honda’s commitment to our students provides relevance for them. They see a company support education, and for them it instantly answers the question, ‘Why am I learning this stuff?’” said Brown. “Instead, they see that there’s a need for engineers and scientists, and aid for people who are studying what they’re studying. They quit asking ‘the question,’ and start putting their full force and creativity into their work.”
Brown believes that the financial benefit of AHSOP is substantial for students, particularly for those in low-income families who are at-risk of following behind in school.
“Honda’s contribution really makes a huge difference, both academically and financially,” said Brown. “AHSOP also helps build their confidence. They take classes in college as freshmen and sophomores, and then when they become juniors and seniors they’re not nervous about exploring other important aspects of going to college, such as finding student housing, and seeking financial aid or student loans.”
Upon graduation from CAMS, students have earned up to 33 units of college credit at little cost to them. Some students participate in all three years of AHSOP and take other elective courses at CSUDH to earn additional units.
Troy Daley, an 18-year-old senior from Torrance who will graduate from CAMS in June 2016, went through AHSOP. He has already accumulated 37 CSUDH units, which is more than a year’s worth of course work for most college-age CSUDH students.
“At Cal State Dominguez Hills, the professors treated us like we were typical university students. We went to the lectures, and the professors would open their office hours to us,” said Daley, who plans to pursue a career in chemical engineering, with a particular interest in developing more efficient ways to manufacture solar panels for homes.
“I feel well prepared for my future, and for when I enroll at Northwestern next year. Having a college transcript when you’re still a high school student is great, and having a lot of my general education already done will help me save a lot of time and money,” said Daley. “It’ll be like I’m already sophomore when I go to Chicago.”