College for Kids at HCC allows participants to pursue their interests

July 13, 2011|By MAEGAN CLEARWOOD |
  • Instructor Kim Rishell, left, shows student Lauren Fox the process of making a lava lamp during the Mad Scientist Course of Hagerstown Community College's College for Kids program.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

The mad scientists at the College for Kids this week are doing things such as observing globs of vibrant food coloring ooze and swirl in their water bottle lava lamps.

One building away, "CSI" detectives on Tuesday examined and identified each other's fingerprints.

In other Hagerstown Community College classrooms, grade-school learners were attending veterinary school, studying fashion design and constructing Lego robots.

More than 900 children are attending the 70 "academic enrichment program" classes this summer, according to Anne Myers, program coordinator for the College for Kids program.

College for Kids "really spurs a child's passion or lights the fire for a new passion," Myers said.

College for Kids, now in its 24th year, offers children a variety of weeklong classes that explore everything from computer science to literature.

Myers said there are a number of new classes this year, especially in career and technically-oriented subjects.

HCC faculty members run the program through the Washington County Board of Education. Participating instructors love the opportunity to build individual, hands-on lesson plans, Myers said.

Volunteers from the HCC child-development program and the Washington County Technical High School are among this year's staff.

Tara Burger, a student achievement specialist during the school year, is teaching the CSI - or Crime Scene Investigation - class for a second year in a row. Her students are learning about observational skills, fingerprinting, chromatography, and the variety of jobs that utilize such skills.

"I think it's a great experience for kids to dabble in their interests and enrich their knowledge of subjects they could pursue in the future," said Burger. "They're really pushing science in elementary schools, because that's where careers are going to be in the future. These kids are learning about what's out there and a possible career option."

Nine-year-old detective Emily Everett said she's considering a career in criminal investigation, but she has plenty of options. Last summer, for example, Everett took the Treasures of the Ocean class.

Everett chose the CSI class because she wanted to "learn how to solve crimes."

"I think it's really fun here," she said.

Everett and her classmates are at HCC every day this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Between computer lab sessions, experiments, and mystery solving, students have recess and lunch breaks.

"When they're here all day, you want to break it up," Burger said.

Myers said she sees many of the same faces each summer, and some students even return as teachers when they're older.

Sixteen-year-old Uzair Burmi is a College for Kids veteran.

"I had a rocks and minerals class when I was 8," he said. "I've been coming back for a few years. It's pretty cool."

Burmi is volunteering with the mad scientist class this week with instructor Kim Rishell. Lava lamps are only the beginning of the students' experimental achievements. Later this week, they will use the skills they've honed to set off rockets.

The CSI class is also building up to an exciting last day.

"They're going to put everything that they've learned and solve a mystery with their parents," Burger said.

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