About 40 youngsters were on the sidewalks dashing to “class” this week as part of a newly revamped Kids College.
Monica Cruz, marketing manager, said, “The purpose of Kids College is for us to extend our programs and services to a younger demographic.
“We really felt it was important to give back to the community.”
The idea of focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics was chosen because of its popularity with educators recently.
STEM has gained in popularity in the educational arena recently because those who trumpet it say it improves students’ abilities to compete in technology fields.
New this year is that those students attending college are doing so at no cost.
“We did realize the cost could be a little prohibitive, so this gave us the opportunity for anybody to sign up,” Cruz said. “We basically removed any barrier and made it more accessible to more students.”
About a 100 students, 40 on the Beeville campuses and 20 at each of the satellite campuses, are benefiting from the program.
“The purpose was to enlighten them on the different types of careers and everyday activities that involve math, engineering, science and technology,” said Lillian Garza, CBC employee who is helping coordinate the program. “I hope the kids come away with learning to work as a team and in their everyday surrounding and how, in everyday, life science, technology, engineering and math are all around us.”
Help for the program came from the Barnhart Foundation which donated $3,000 to defray expenses such as T-shirts and backpacks that were provided to the students.
Beeville Independent School District provided the lunches here for the week while school district in the other counties provided meals for the satellite campuses.
This year’s program was only four days as opposed to 16 days as it was in years past.
“We did that so that students can go to other camps in the area,” Cruz said.
By opening this program up to a wider variety of youngsters—which included those that might not have been able to afford it otherwise or could not make it for a full 16 days—the hope is that more youths will see college as a goal.
“They are going to the computer lab, so they are seeing other students, and they are able to interact with them a little bit. You also have the Workforce Force center just right down the hall.”
At this age, the reality is it is about making learning fun for the kids, and the teachers know this.
“Hopefully, we make these tough science and math classes more fun by applying it to more real world applications,” Cruz said.
The term real world can be interpreted differently, but for these youngsters that means a building a rocket ship.
This one won’t be going to the moon, but it was a chance for teachers like Sarah Viertel to talk to the kids about space, flying and the possibility of, one day, returning to the moon. And, yes, they also made their own solar system to go with the rocket.
To build these took a bit scavenging and dumpster diving by the teachers.
“It is real interesting to see how creative these teachers are, and they instill that in the students,” Cruz said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.