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I grew up in a university town where elementary school students were so often on campus it never occurred to many of us that post-secondary education was merely an option. When the college held its annual open house, schools throughout town shut their doors and took full-day field trips to campus. We were ushered to various educational events disguised as magic shows (chemistry), games (mathematics), building blocks (engineering), carnivals (economics) or animal play time(various animal science units).
So it's been particularly tough to live in a community where post-secondary education is, for too many, an afterthought and interaction between the local institution of higher learning and their target audience (up-and-coming students) is limited to dance lessons for Junior. We're told funding shortfalls and, even more importantly, insurance worries have brought an end to most on-campus programs for those under age 18. Gone, apparently, are the days of summer cooking camp for kids, workshops for the next generation of artisans, writing conferences for future novelists.
You can imagine, then, my excitement when the college announced it would be inviting the entire community to a series of science nights designed for hands-on learning for all ages. We couldn't make the first due to a previous commitment, but happened to share (through a mutual friend and camper) a camp weekend with one of its founders. He reported that the initial effort was so well received that the rooms for Night Two were multiplied in hopes of better managing the crowd.
I can tell you that, even with the added space, the program was an ABSOLUTE hit! The rooms were packed, college students tremendous with the ruckus and all the questions, activities equally fundamental and fun, and community well served.
There's one more night remaining in this series (May 13, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. in the M block - park near the gym and take the short walk to the fun). We'll be there. Then I'll be an avid supporter of future grant funding that will help make these type of educational, fun, encouraging events more prevalent. What better way to bring the community and its college together while encouraging excitement for learning?