A Fun Taste of College at Kaua'i CC for Middle Schoolers

Kauaʻi Community College
Camilla Matsumoto, (808) 245-8280
Dir. Comm Outreach & Spec Proj, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Aug 14, 2014

Great Egg Race
Great Egg Race
Rocket Launch
Rocket Launch
Simple Agriculture
Simple Agriculture

LIHUE—Learning at college is a thrilling adventure filled with exciting discoveries--even in summer. This is what middle school-aged students experienced during the 5th Annual Kids College Program held at Kaua'i CC through its Office of Continuing Education and Training (OCET). Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math engrossing?  Yes!--was the resounding reply from students, most of whom took all five of the program’s week-long courses from early June through July.  Supported by Kaua'i Economic Development Board (KEDB) and its Ala 'Ike Program with US DOE grant funding, the courses were taught by Kaua'i CC staff and teachers from schools on island.  KEDB provided scholarships that covered half of the $100 tuition per course and student for the entire program.

“Kaua'i CC is thrilled to be working with community partners to offer summer learning experiences to our younger student populations,” said Bruce Getzan, OCET Director.

 “We are delighted to see young students on our campus,” said Helen Cox, Kaua`i CC Chancellor.  “We love seeing them feeling comfortable being here and so excited about STEM learning.  It’s the perfect way to prepare for their future,” said Cox. “We can’t wait to have them as college-level students!”

In” Simple Agriculture,"  taught by Kaua'i CC Farm Manager Jin-Wah Lau, students learned about planting, transplanting, hydroponics, aquaponics, cultivating worms for vermiculture, weeds, and wildlife.  By drawing plant pictures, they learned how the pH composition of a hibiscus flower can alter paint colors.  By collecting honeybees and centipedes, they learned about good bugs and bad bugs. A leaf pressing project left overnight to dry only to be eaten by pigs turned into a “who-done-it?” solving activity the next morning.  Baby Native Koa trees were transplanted in healthy soil.

In “Rocketry,” taught by Waimea School teacher Jerry Nishihara, students constructed, launched, and recovered high-flying rockets they built from scratch.  In preparation for the “Launch Day,” where they competed before teachers, friends, and family members, students learned to calculate flight distance, velocity, and recovery time.  Eager to meet these young potential space flight engineers was Stu Burley, Associate Director for Kaua`i on the Hawai`i Space Grant Consortium an arm of the Hawai`i Space Flight Lab.  On board to help with the launch were members of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The Rocketry course was well timed as Kaua'i CC students and faculty in Technology Education are gearing up to serve as the tracking sight for satellites being launched in November.

In “Robotics,” taught by Kapa'a Elementary School teacher Heidi Tokuda, students built moving robots out of hundreds of LEGO pieces.  Students displayed engineering ingenuity as they constructed robot limbs and devised computer programs where their robots performed functions and tasks on an activity mat.

In “Busted:  Myths in Science,” taught by Cheifess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher Paul Holwegner,” students learned basic principles of science inquiry while doing fun “myth-busting” experiments.  They tested the myth about mentos candy and its effect with soda, and investigated what really goes on in your stomach when you eat pop-rocks.  These young mythbuster scientists solved these and other myths relating to pressure and temperature.  Holwenger was named 2013 Teacher of the Year for Kaua'i.

In “The GREAT Egg Race,” taught by Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher Joni Ortiz, students applied their design skills in building paper mini-cars to protect their “humpty-dumpty” drivers.  The GREAT Egg Race tested the speed and dexterity of each mini car entered into the competition.  The goal of each contestant was to win the race and protect their “humpty-dumpty” driver from cracking.

 “Getting students to personally experience college at a young age provides them with options for what they can do when they grow up,” said Mia Ako, Vice President of KEDB.  “Dispelling myths about how difficult STEM subjects are is the number one purpose of this program,” she said.  “Going to college is not a scary thing and STEM learning is fun and filled with student success stories,” said Ako.

KEDB and Kaua'i CC thank PMRF, Hawai`i Space Grant Consortium, Rotary Club of Po'ipu Beach, and US DOE for their support and keen interest in the program.