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Education/Schools

June 16, 2014

PLANTING A SEED: Ivy Tech Kids’ College gives youngsters a taste of higher ed

Children in grades three through five get to choose two of nine classes to attend for four days

SELLERSBURG — Their robot backed up, turned around, but turned just a touch too much. The hardware was working just fine, it was just their programming that needed a slight adjustment.

“What’s really cool is programming your own robot,” Noah Schremser, an incoming fourth-grader at Mt. Tabor Elementary School, said. “What’s cooler than that?”

Schremser and his partner in the same grade and school, Kurt Geron, were just a couple of the students going straight from elementary school to higher education at Ivy Tech’s Kids’ College this week. They were building robots and giving them directions in a LEGO robotics course.

Children in grades three through five get to choose two of nine classes to attend for four days, ranging from making cupcakes to learning the basics of chemistry.

Tricia Wall, assistant professor of education at Ivy Tech, said with parents looking to get kids away from TV over the summer, they wanted to give them another option to keep children entertained while teaching them something.

“There are a lot of programs out there for athletics, but there aren’t many for this kind of enrichment,” Wall said. “The ones that are out there are usually closed enrollment, but we want to make sure that the way we allow kids in matches up with our mission.”

She said that’s part of the reason the program has grown in the last few years. In its fourth year, the chemistry class and a geology class were added in.

Wall said they wanted to make sure that along with theater, cooking and other classes that girls tend to favor, they wanted to make sure boys got something they were normally interested in.

She also said as the program gains in popularity, they’re looking at other ways to expand it. During the winter intersession, Ivy Tech offered it for students. She said they may do it again next year.

Mary Ann Bennett, dean of education at Ivy Tech, said part of the idea is to give kids an interest in college long before they have to think about applying.

Geron said when he learned the chemistry class was available, he thought it might serve him well as he pursues his career choice.

“I really want to be an engineer, and to do that, you have to take a lot of different, really hard classes,” Geron said. “I thought it would help me when I become an engineer.”

Kevin Sparks, the teacher for the robotics class, said giving kids a taste of what they can do later in life is important, especially if those fields are still going to play a vital role when they’re old enough to apply for college.

“It’s really important to get that foundation built right now,” Sparks said. “I think robotics is going to be a big part of our future. If we can give them that idea now, they can pursue that as a career.”

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