Clearer look at learning: OCTECHS students get new microscopes

OCTECHS biology teacher Stephanie Marin has been able to make learning easier for her students by obtaining a $10,000 grant through Phillips 66 for a batch of compound light microscopes.
Marin said the 16 microscopes and microscope storage cart arrived earlier this year. Phillips 66 representatives, Marin and some of her students were on hand Tuesday to show them to visitors.
Odessa Career & Technical Early College High School is on the Odessa College campus and enables students to earn an associate degree or certificate at the same time they are working toward a high school diploma.
The grant also allowed OCTECHS to get many slides for biology, a forensic slide set and a chemistry slime kit and digital camera. Also, Marin said by the time they got the grant, some of the equipment was less expensive so it allowed them to buy more.
Marin’s classroom is on the third floor of the Wood Math and Science Building. Forensics is on the second floor.
“Odessa College has been amazing for the past three years. They’ve let us borrow their microscopes and slides. I’ve had to coordinate with them,” Marin said.
Moving the microscopes was not easy because the microscopes are not light and she was afraid of dropping them. Now Marin said she won’t have to worry about that. The cart also helps because it’s on wheels and can be taken on the elevator to the forensic science class.
She has 80 to 100 students in biology and forensic science has approximately 65.
“Microscopes are good as long as you maintain them. I purchased lens cleaning care kits. I’m very strict with microscopes,” Marin said. “My goal is that these should last for however long the program is here.”
She added that she is very appreciative of the grant.
“… This helps our program out a lot. It makes my job easier and helps me to do so much more than what I was able to do the last couple of years. I’m very appreciative and excited. I felt like I won the lottery,” Marin said.
Emma Emiliano, a 15-year-old sophomore, said the microscopes have more capability than the ones they were using and they can view what’s on the slides in greater detail.
“I’m actually the one that unpacked all of these,” Emiliano said.
Eryn Grijalva, a 16-year-old sophomore, said she thinks the microscopes are helpful to the students’ education.
“They’re easy to use and give us a clearer image than the last microscopes that we had,” Grijalva said.
Korbin Cummings, also a 16-year-old sophomore, said he likes the new microscopes “because you can zoom in” with them.
“Now that we own them all, there (will) be a lot more labs with them, so that would be fun. You can look at more stuff,” Cummings added.
Carl Baker, a maintenance truck driver for Phillips 66, said the corporation tries to make donations every quarter.
“We’re very proud of it. … We’re very proud to wear the Phillips 66 shield because we do help our communities and we do give back in education and programs of this nature …,” Baker said.
Baker added that these students could be part of Phillips’ future workforce.
Area Supervisor Kirby Shipp said Phillips likes to invest in communities.
“… It’s a good company. I’m just proud to be able to be here,” Shipp said.
Gerardo Ramirez, who oversees OCTECHS and Falcon Early College High School, said the school is thankful to Phillips 66 for providing the grant.
“I know Ms. Marin is making very good use of it in biology classes, especially with it being a STAAR tested subject. I know that the students have enjoyed it. They’re utilizing it to make learning meaningful …,” Ramirez said.