Barry McNamara  |   Published June 23, 2016

College For Kids

Monmouth provides summer enrichment for area youth
  • City of Monmouth’s Community Development Director Paul Schuytema works with a College For Kids student on his game design.
Summer school typically gets a bad rap, but for one at least one very pleased parent, the two weeks that Monmouth College offers its College For Kids could easily be increased.

“It’s an unbelievable program,” said Laura Allen of Aledo, whose son, Hunter, is participating in College For Kids for his sixth year. “We need this to be continuous, not just two weeks. We absolutely love it. When (director) Kathy (Mainz) was giving her opening remarks on the first day, she talked about the College wanting to give back to the community. Monmouth College does that 100 percent with this program.”

The annual summer enrichment program, which serves the needs of gifted and talented children in the area, is open to qualifying students who will be in third through ninth grades in the fall. This year’s College for Kids — which was held June 13th through the 24th — attracted 343 students. Each student takes three classes, choosing from a list of subjects that includes fine arts, languages, computers, math, business, literature, writing, communication, logic, science and social studies.

Hunter’s first class of the three-hour morning was “R U Game Smart,” taught by the City of Monmouth’s Community Development Director Paul Schuytema, who has a background in game design.

While working on individual big screen Apple computers in the Center for Science and Business, the dozen students in Schuytema’s class used computer code to create portals and exits in their grid games. The also learned how to “spawn enemies.”

“You guys have the tools now to create your own game,” Schuytema told the class. “You also have the power to destroy your own game, so I’ll be moving around the room to help you all out.”

Down the hallway, students in Tim Stiles’ “Rockets” class were painting their rockets, which were set to launch later in the week, including on the final day of College For Kids, when parents and other family members would be in attendance to watch.

An associate professor of physics at Monmouth, Stiles has taught at College For Kids the past six years. His “Rockets” class is so popular that he has taught it all three hours of the program for the past two years.

“The students enjoy the science behind it,” he said. “These are rockets that they’ve designed, built and painted. Each and every one is a little bit different, based on how they put the fins on, and how many fins they use.”

He added, “I’ve enjoyed watching some of the students who have taken this class go on to work with rocketry in 4H and go to state.”

Two former Monmouth College students were among this year’s CFK teachers. Ric Williams, now a graduate student, taught “Everyday Physics,” and David Milroy ’12 instructed “Starlab” in an inflatable planetarium borrowed from the Regional Office of Education in Moline, Ill.

Williams helped his students construct cars from common household items, powered by balloons. That illustrates Newton’s Third Law, which was correctly articulated by one of his students: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

Said Milroy, who teaches in the United school district and sponsored one CFK student, “I enjoy the group I get to see every day during the school year. But College For Kids helps me get to know other kids from the area. The kids who are here want to be here.”

Mainz said that seeing how children react to the classes is one of the reasons she enjoys running the program.
“It never ceases to amaze me the intellectual curiosity and the absolute love of learning that these kids have,” she said.
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