About 650 fifth graders from Orange County schools will see firsthand the opportunities that college can provide for them when they visit the University of Central Florida Monday, March 17.

Achieve a College Education Day, or ACE Day, is intended to inspire children by showing them they are capable of one day earning a college degree and becoming anything they want to if they work hard. All of the students are coming from Title I elementary schools, which receive federal funding to provide additional instruction and support services for educationally disadvantaged children.

The students will split up and take part in numerous hands-on activities that introduce them to majors and careers in the humanities and STEM fields.

In addition to a tour of campus and student housing, some of the day’s 26 activities will include:

  • A theatre improv class
  • Examining animal fossils in a biology lab
  • Engaging in engineering using toothpicks and gum drops
  • A visit to the UCF art gallery
  • A presentation by the UCF wind ensemble, Knight Winds
  • Additionally, some of the students will attend a presentation by WESH TV weatherman Tony Mainolfi that introduces them to meteorology.

    The students will have lunch at the Reflecting Pond, where they will be visited by Knightro and some UCF athletes.

    ACE Day, developed and implemented by The Burnett Honors College, is the culmination of a multi-week program in which honors students work with elementary schoolers to teach them success skills, such as time management and the importance of goal-setting.

    On ACE Day, the same UCF volunteers who worked with these students in their own elementary schools will show them what college life is like and what opportunities there are at their school.

    “For our students who represent so many different majors and colleges, including graduate students, they find a lot of value in contributing their time to this day to sharing their own story,” said Kelly Astro, director of research and civic engagement in The Burnett Honors College.  “It shows these students that you can come from any background and overcome any obstacle to become a successful college student.”

    Astro hopes the program inspires the students in attendance and encourages them to return to their schools and neighborhoods and tell their friends about the exciting opportunities college can hold.

    “These programs really open the eyes of young people to the fact that college is an option for anyone who works hard and has a goal,” Astro said. “We want them to leave ACE Day knowing that as long as you are working hard and have goals, nothing can stand in your way of attaining a college education.”