Overcoming obstacles – tower climb

On the 4th day of the 2014 S3 program all 17 of the S3 students were introduced to the Alpine tower by our Mountain Challenge instructor, Bruce Guillaume. While he spoke about the tower, I observed the tower and all its glory. I thought to myself, “how on earth could a human being possibly climb such a piece of equipment?”

Walking upon a 60 foot tall tower can be very intimidating. There are so many thoughts and emotions going through your mind at once. The fears, the doubts, and the what-ifs all consume you. Yet the idea of standing on top of the Alpine tower looking down to see how far you’d come outweighs any possible fear.


Bruce explains the ropes, explaining how the equipment is engineered. Redundancy is built in everywhere, so that there is always a backup available.

But before anyone could climb the tower Bruce went over the ropes, literally. He showed us every important instrument and all the equipment that would be assisting us to our success. Bruce, along with other Mountain Challenge workers, displayed examples of what was expected during this activity and the proper procedure for an exciting and safe time.


Jades belay team, Henry and Amanda


Bruce divided  all the S3 students into groups of three. My group consisted of Henry Daniels, Amanda Smith and myself. I went first while Henry was my belayer, he was in charge of my overall safety. It is the belayer’s job to take and give rope to the climber as she moves up the tower; additionally, the belayer gives positive feedback and helps navigate from the ground. Amanda was my rope collector she took up the excess rope that Henry would take from my rope line.



Obstacles on the tower include creepy spiders.

I was very skeptical about going up the tower due to my partners’ inexperience and giving full responsibility for my personal safety to someone else. Climbing the Alpine tower not only took physical ability but mental ability. You had to continue to tell yourself that you could go as far as you wanted to.

While some made it to the very top and others didn’t. I feel as if we all set our own personal goals and were happy with what we accomplished. This activity, while it was meant to be a recreational activity gave me a lot of insight on what life and college would be like for the next four years.




Climbing the tower is a team effort.

I have always known that I had confidence but never have I encountered such a challenge. I used that confidence to face the tower, it pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. There were times I wanted to give up but I was able to persevere and continue on with the support that I was given from my group from the ground. Like the ropes and harness that was used for safety, this activity assured me of the safety and support of the staff and students at Maryville College.


Submitted by Jade Robinson, 2014 Scots Science Scholar

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First Day as Maryville STEM Students – Learning the Ropes

            The seventeen students in the Maryville Scots Science Scholars (S3) program have arrived on campus and completed their first day as a STEM Scholar. The experience consisted of the first portion of Mountain Challenge where I, Evan Ezell, and my fellow classmates participated in several team building exercises. The day may have seemed to get long, but it sure was an awesome day


Can everylne touch the tennis ball in under a second?

.The first team building exercise involved passing a tennis ball around the circle of students. We could not seem to get the ball around without dropping it or within the time limit that the leader set for us. There was a brief moment of disappointment when the group dropped the ball but we always seemed to improve upon each trial. In the final time trial, the group of seventeen students proceeded to get the ball around in less than a second. If the leader, Bruce Guillaume, would have initially told us to get the ball around in under a second we would have all given him a look of disbelief. The tennis ball activity showed the Maryville STEM students that as a group we could overcome an obstacle to reach a goal that might have seemed unattainable at first sight.


Waiting for the leaders….


Successful leaders.

           The second team building exercise was my favorite. The second exercise taught me that small persistent steps toward a goal can lead to a huge success. There were five leaders selected from the group to help navigate the rest of the blindfolded group, which included me, to the picnic tables. The leaders were not allowed to talk or touch the students with blindfolds. The leaders of the group started to clap and stomp their feet on the ground as I stood in line with my hands on the student to my front. I was very confused and did not know what the leaders were doing. Then, all of the sudden… I felt the person in front of me moving. Eventually, we had made it to the picnic tables without any verbal communication.

DSCN3533Bruce instructed us to turn around and see what we had conquered. Blindfolded, every single one of us had made it across a log that was elevated above a creek. What if we had fallen? What if we had not followed the person in front of us? This team building exercise relates to life as a Maryville College student. We had not even seen the end result but we were able to take baby steps with guided direction. The results were absolutely astonishing. The S3 scholars and I took time to reflect on what we had accomplished. At times a project or research paper will put pressure on you as a college student. With the guided direction of the professors, students soon find themselves reflecting over their masterpiece.

          DSCN3536  In the third team building exercise, we had to crawl through a web suspended between two trees. The challenge was the suspended web could not “jiggle” or move. If the web moved, one of the participants selected randomly was disabled, or “bit” by a spider. We made it through this exercise fairly quickly for several reasons. We had different types of students in the group. There were students who were close to the web and practiced their maneuver through the web. There were other students who were standing back; these students were not standing back because they weren’t participating. In reality, they went about problem solving in a different way than other students. The students who stood back processed the task ahead of them. They were so called “planners”, which envisioned themselves completing the task. The collection and collaboration of the different types of students made it possible complete the web more efficiently and effectively.

      DSCN3544      The wall pictured was a part of the final team building exercise. There were seventeen students that had to make it up the wall. Only 3 students were allowed to help get the others over the wall. Once you had helped 3 students, you were not allowed to help the group anymore. This added a strategy aspect and made it specifically challenging for the last two students who climbed the wall. Jay Bowyer and Ron McGriff were the last two Scots Science Scholars to climb the wall. Jay got on Ron’s back and extended his arm to the top of the wall. Ron had to jump all the way to the top of the wall. He was aided with the help of the other students at the top. During the wall climbing activity, the students that were not climbing had to spot the person climbing the wall. This gave us a physical illustration of the support group that is within Maryville College. Although the focus of learning and education is on the students, there are many people in the community and professors guiding and “spotting” us as we embark on our intellectual journey.  

            Our first day as Maryville College students was packed full of activities. It was a great opportunity to meet the other students. All of the S3 program students enjoyed themselves, and are looking forward to the rest of the summer program!  

Submitted by Evan Ezell, 2014 Scots Science Scholar

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