The Herald-Times

College for Kids aims to be a launch pad to campus

Annual program of Ivy Tech and Bloomington Parks and Recreation promotes higher ed

By Donyelle Davis
331-4353 |

June 25, 2011

Eleven-year-old Carson Baker waited anxiously for his cue to commence the take-off of his custom-made rocket, which stood perched on the launch pad. His classmates also waited in anticipation for the signal from their instructor, veteran science teacher Jeff Lepore, to attempt to propel the foot-long craft into space. On his cue, the launch button was pressed and the device soared into the clear sky; its built-in parachute deployed and assured the missile’s safe landing.

Thursday was launch day for students enrolled in the Advanced Rocketry class at the College for Kids summer program. Earlier this week, the 10 students, ages 11 to 14, constructed their own rockets, learned how they worked and how to safely launch them.

“My favorite part is chasing after (the rockets)!” Baker said.

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus began the first session of its annual College for Kids summer day camp June 13. It will continue through June 30. College for Kids is a partnership between Ivy Tech and Bloomington Parks and Recreation’s Kid City. The program, which offers 14 different practical classes, promotes higher education and encourages participants to go to college.

Susie Graham, director of the Center for Lifelong Learning Office, said the classes are intended to engage middle school-aged children in hands-on learning. The program offers three sessions, with room for 35 children per session.

“Everything we have is hands-on,” she said. “The instructors bring (learning) to life through the class activities.”

Some of the courses offered include interactive science classes, desktop publishing, music lessons and a magic class, where students learn various magic tricks.

“Some (students) have never set foot in a college environment,” Graham said. “Having them here is a positive experience and positive memory.”

Donald Mabry, a full-time psychology student at Ivy Tech, attended the launch day to support his son Isaac during the first launch of his rocket, named “Baby Bertha.”

“He’s loving it! It’s like he is a little college student for a week,” Mabry said. “ He jumped right in and he is really enjoying it.”

Mabry said the camp was convenient since he attended class on Ivy Tech’s campus most of the week and the program also gave his son an opportunity to have a productive summer away from video games.

“We get to ride the bus together and it’s been excellent, “ Mabry said. “He can be shy sometimes, but he is really fitting in.”

Justin Baltzegar, 12, said his favorite part about the Advanced Rocketry class was launching the rockets and watching them crash or their parachutes deploy. He enjoyed tracking the rockets and recording how high they soared, in meters.

“I heard misfires happen and sometimes it can be disastrous and sometimes it can be funny,” he said. “A well-made rocket is a great thing to have.”

Science teacher Jeff Lepore helps one of his students, Cole Grubb, adjust his rocket on the launch pad. Ashley Griffin | Herald-Times

Copyright: 2011