Instructor Frank Huerta, left, watches as students launch rockets during the finale of the summer math camp for TRiO students at College of the Mainland.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Veronica Flores hit the trigger and with a burst of smoke, a hiss and a bang the model rocket soared into the sky.
The last day of the summer math camp for College of the Mainland TRiO students ended on a high note as students launched rockets into the air, and after watching the rockets’ arc, applied the algebra concepts they had learned to graph their trajectories.
Flores counts 82 steps to her rocket’s landing place and marks its parabolic path on her grid. Confessing she’s never liked math, she said she has enjoyed the weeklong algebra class instructor Frank Huerta taught.
“He made it fun,” said Flores. “I think math might be my new favorite subject.”

Huerta’s workshop gave students a head start on taking college algebra in the fall. This last class ended with a bang – and some advice.
“Don’t let anybody tell you can’t,” Huerta assured his students. “When you are taking math, feel free to come to me for help.”
During the week, he’s helped demystify functions, parabolas and domain and range.
“That’s my language, math. I like to make it easy,” said Huerta.
For twin students Chelsy Nelle  and Tracy Nelle, the class has helped them remember concepts explained in high school.
“You forget a lot,” said Chelsy. “It’s been a refresher.”
TRiO is a federally funded program for low-income or first-generation college students. In addition to summer workshops, students in COM’s TRiO program receive assistance in tutoring and academic advising throughout the year.