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CFK has another successful year, serving more than 300 youth

C.J. Bonifer '22
College for Kids students investigate virtual reality during a class taught by Monmouth staff member Kyle Martin.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – All Kathy Mainz has to do to see the impact of Monmouth College’s College for Kids is to read the news.

“College for Kids is a great opportunity for kids who are gifted academically to be in an environment that helps foster growth,” said Mainz, Monmouth’s biology laboratory manager, who has directed the summer enrichment program since 2008. “Every year since I’ve been doing this I look in the local papers around graduation time and see former College for Kids students graduating in the top half of their class.”

Monmouth’s 39th annual College for Kids, held June 11-21, brought in more than 300 students from a seven-county area, offering a wide range of classes from Olympic sports in antiquity to a Wizard Academy inspired by the Harry Potter book and film series.

Instructors for the two-week program hail from six counties and also feature Monmouth faculty and staff, including Kyle Martin, the College’s instructional technology manager. Martin taught “Step into the World of Virtual Reality,” which not only allowed students to play around in virtual reality, also known as VR, but also learn how the “software tricks your brain into thinking you’re in an actual environment.”

“On the last day of the class I had the students teach their parents how to use VR and play around in it,” said Martin. “VR is no longer the future, it is here now and it is everywhere. If kids are interested in programming, app design or game design, this could help foster that.”

Another popular class was ceramics, which was taught by art major Ryan Dawson ’21. Dawson grew up in Monmouth and attended College for Kids as a youth, taking ceramics from Monmouth-Roseville High School art teacher and College alumnus Kurt Fowler ’90.

Dawson said watching the kids throughout the program was interesting because “you could see how art creates community for the kids. They would share tools like paint brushes and glazes with each other.”

He added, “Almost all of the parents told me that when they got home their kids couldn’t stop talking about ceramics and art.”