Tech offers children college experiences - The Daily Toreador: Lavida

Tech offers children college experiences

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Posted: Sunday, October 2, 2011 6:44 pm

The Institute for the Development and Enrichment of Advanced Learners, or IDEAL, at Texas Tech offers children a unique experience on campus.

Super Saturdays is an academic enrichment program for children enrolled in kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Cindy Parnell, an IDEAL staff member, said the classes are every Saturday from Oct. 1-22.

“Super Saturdays is for community engagement — to bring children onto campus and give them a Texas Tech experience,” she said.

Parnell said children get to take different types of classes and that a little bit of everything is offered, depending on what students might be interested in.

She said classes include cooking, culture, Lego robotics, Spanish, theatre and more.

She said some Tech students teach the classes or volunteer in them, and this gives the younger students experience working with college students.

Amanda Foster, IDEAL interim assistant director and a Super Saturdays lab instructor, said Super Saturdays has been at Tech for more than 20 years, and they usually have 150-250 young participants involved, depending on the semester.

“We try to bring them onto campus in order to give them an enriched academic experience,” she said. “What we do in class is more than what they would get in a normal classroom. We do experiments with them that they would not be able to do in a regular classroom. We try to advance their educations and push them to learn more about their interests.”

Foster said they love the children coming on campus to have real campus experiences, where they get to go to class in the same classrooms as Tech students.

She also said the young students love using the same beakers, test tubes, microscopes and other items college students use.

“Our goal is to encourage them to also go to college later, and hopefully Texas Tech will be one of their choices,” she said.

Christian Espinoza, a junior mechanical engineering major from Dallas, works in the IDEAL office and is helping teach the Super Saturdays lab class.

“We give the kids a more in-depth experience in subjects than what they get in school,” he said.

Getting involved with the children is his favorite part about helping teach the class, Espinoza said and it gives him leadership experience and hands-on experience with teaching.

He said he is getting a minor in mathematics and wants to be a math teacher.

Troy Lescher, a theatre and dance doctoral candidate and Super Saturdays theatre instructor, said he is teaching the class “All the World’s a Stage” in the Human Sciences Building for this semester’s Super Saturdays program.

“In addition to what the students learn in their elementary schools during the week, this is a weekend program to give them some other skills they can use for a variety of things,” he said. “For theatre, we are all about getting the students on stage, getting them comfortable in front of people and working on public speaking skills,” he said.

Lescher said he thinks the program gives the children experiences that open their eyes to a lot of different areas beyond what they go through in school.

They take math, spelling and reading in school, he said, but this opens them up to many other opportunities to learn about who they are and their personal passions.

“For the theatre class, the goal is for kids to learn about the theatre and what it means to put on a show,” he said. “I hope to also make them comfortable in being in front of a group of people, to give them some skills so they can speak with confidence and make sure they have a lot of fun and learn a lot things.”

When the children go to middle school or high school, Lescher said he hopes the experience will stimulate a little bit of a passion or enthusiasm for something down the road.

“I enjoy teaching my college students, but it is fun to work with younger populations,” he said. “They challenge you in a lot of different ways.”

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