• Kids2College program helps youngsters plan future academic careers
By Naomi Klouda
If about 90 percent of all communication is nonverbal, how many meanings can a statement like, “I got a job today” take on?
Lots of examples were acted out by sixth graders in a Kachemak Bay Campus college classroom Friday morning. The utterance can take on despair if it’s not the job they wanted. It might mean enthusiasm, jubilation or disappointment.
“When that much of communication is nonverbal, it’s not what you say that matters so much, as how you say it,” Professor Beth Graber told them.
Graber held the rapt attention of about 20 sixth graders even though she used actual material from her Communications 111 Fundamentals of Oral Communication course.
Sixth grade students from Chapman and West Homer elementary schools took part in the Kids2College program Friday at KBC. For many it will be the first steps toward exploring their college and career interests. The event capitalizes on the belief they’re never too young to get them thinking about college education plans.
In Graber’s classroom, she introduces the concept of proxemics, a theory of spacial relations between people that seems to make sense to her young students.
“It’s nonverbal, how you use space, how close you are to someone, whether they are in back or in front,” Graber explains. “There are four zones of how we use space. The first one is 18 inches of space (from your body). You don’t want people going in there unless you invite them.”
Like Graber, four other college professors are busy professing to elementary students in other classrooms. The point isn’t to talk down to them, but to supply them with a sample of a college course’s true flavor.
Other colleges around the state are doing the same. Building on the success of the “I’m Going To College” program, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and UA College Savings Plan partnered to take Kids2College across Alaska – serving nearly 2,200, 5th and 6th grade students across 13 communities, including Homer.
In Homer 74 participated in the program which also included a six-week curriculum in their classrooms exploring careers. This was the second year of Homer’s participation.
It cost $1,100 for lunch and bus transportation that the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary education allocated. Along with their SallieMae Fund sponsor, they provided each student with a piggy bank with a $1 bill in each one and a very cool backpack which the college distributed when they all left, said KBC Director Carol Swartz. The college donates staff time and supplies.
Over in Professor Debbie Boege-Tobin’s marine biology lab, the students got an upclose look at specimens, bones and a serious college-level lecture explaining the taxonomy and phila names of three groups: the anthropoda, the echinodermata and the chordasia – or, to put it simply, specimens like clams/squid, fish and mammals in each of those categories.
“Do clams have eyes?” a student asks.
“Scallops do, but clams don’t. They are using light, moving away or toward the light,” she answers.
“How do they know you’re coming?” the same girl asks.
“It’s the vibrations. They can feel you,” Tobin answers, and launches into an explanation on their strong “feet” which adhere tightly to tidal rocks or snatch food with long tentacles, as in the squid’s case.
Even though the dog fish shark’s innards are exposed and the ratfish whiskers are a tad creepy, the students go in for a tactical lesson as well at the end of the 25-minute lesson. The students seem perfectly at home.
And that’s the hoped result. Kids who visualize themselves in a college classroom early on are able to shrug off daunting myths like “college is too serious,” or “college is too hard for me.”
There’s other academic advantages as well. To prepare for their campus visit, students research what is involved with different careers and present the information to their classmates. Along the way, they learn about various academic options and the steps they can take today to prepare for college. Kids2College teaches students about local high school graduation and test requirements, college admissions, and how to qualify for financial aid opportunities like the Alaska Performance Scholarship.
Kids2College alumni are more likely to discuss college preparation with parents and teachers, and to understand college is possible for them, according to national studies. For those children whose families may not have a college-going history, it’s an opportunity to learn first-hand about the career avenues and life experiences college offers.
Besides the seriousness of the event, the students can see even college-level learning can be fun. A sixth grader from Chapman Elementary, holding the homily ratfish, turned to his friend and added a fact of his own.
“I heard even seagulls don’t like to eat these guys,” he said.
Comments are closed