Manuel Colon has been teaching Science in the Victor Valley Union High School District for the past 15 years and currently teaches Chemistry and AP Environmental Science at University Preparatory School in Victorville. His interest in Science was sparked when he was chosen to be in an after-school science program in 9th grade. Manuel continued to take science courses in high school and very quickly developed a passion and love for it. Manuel began his Chemistry Major at Cal Poly Pomona in 1990 and enjoyed Science and Math, so much that he became involved in different math, science, and engineering programs at Cal Poly. Manuel was involved in Academic Excellence workshops as a freshman through the Minority Engineering Program and Science Enhancement Educational Services at Cal Poly Pomona, and these programs helped students through group workshops tailored to math or science courses. During his Junior Year Manuel was given the honor of facilitating some of the academic excellence workshops he had previously taken and his passion for teaching started to flourish. Manuel worked as a Bridge Program counselor during the summer for incoming freshman along with becoming a tutor and counselor at EOP (Educational Opportunity Program). These opportunities helped form his goals and desire to become a teacher. Manuel’s career as a teacher allowed him to teach many students at different grade levels and courses such as Life Science, Physical Science, Algebra, Pre-algebra, Chemistry, and AP Environmental.
What Manuel loves best is the chance to mold and affect kids in a positive way that may impact their future careers and decisions. He does his best to apply for grants and attends MEEC teacher workshops that bring meaning to lessons and helps provide students experiences that are meaningful, make an impact, and are fun. Manuel has been the advisor / sponsor for different clubs and currently is the advisor for MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) at University Preparatory. This club is sponsored by University of California, Riverside. Manuel’s students have had the chance to learn, compete, and experience many things over the years. He has taken students to many competitions where students have the chance to use their talents to build and compete in competitions such as mousetrap car design, balsa wood glider design, egg drop package design, Website design, Bridge building, and robotics. Students have also had the chance to see many universities and attend Engineering Day at UCR.
Throughout his career, Manuel has been involved with many organizations that have helped him to focus on students learning and impact on their lives. Manuel has been involved in MEEC for about 5 years now. The first MEEC teacher workshop he attended was a glass plant which provided great learning experience on how glass was manufactured and processed. Manuel has taken advantage of the MEEC EnviroBus Bucks transportation grant program over the past three years to take students on different field trips including Molycorp out at Mountain Pass; Elementis / Hector Mine near Newberry Springs, Victor Valley Water Reclamation Authority in Victorville; and Cal Portland Cement in Mojave Desert. At Molycorp, students had a great time at observing an open pit mine, rock hounding, and learning about rare earth metals used in magnets today. The Hector Mine trip allowed them to feel white clay directly from the source, which is used in many household products and cosmetics, and experience mining techniques and the machinery used to mine the rare minerals. At Victor Valley Waste Reclamation Authority, students had the opportunity to follow the process of waste water reclamation and how the reclaimed waste water is re-introduced back into the adjoining Mojave River. At Cal Portland Company, students experienced renewable wind energy on-site being used to generate electricity used for manufacturing cement.
Manuel has also received an EE mini grant in which he was able to purchase solar cells to teach his students how to build, modify, and race solar cars. Manuel also provided his students with the opportunity to build, modify, and test windmills by KidWind and perform different hands-on tests like pitch angles and blades size. Manuel’s students also have the opportunity each year to attend the Youth Environmental Leadership Conference (YELC) at Victor Valley College. This past year, Manuel facilitated a student “Wind Energy” workshop and will be Co-Facilitator at the upcoming MEEC “Renewable Energy” teacher workshops that will be presented at (4) locations (Antelope Valley, Barstow, Copper Mountain College, and Victorville) in September and October. “All the experiences in my career have made me a better teacher and each year helps me to improve myself as an educator. I have had many opportunities over the years to attend such accolades as the California Distinguished Schools Award Banquet and the Blue Ribbon Award in Washington DC. All my adventures, rewards, experiences, and all the lives I have been allowed to be part of in my career and experiences have been made possible because of my decisions 16 years ago.”