On-campus learning for kids

By Amy Jackson

A Missouri college gets kids on campus for summer learning opportunities.

At State Fair Community College’s Kids College, fun is our middle name because fun is an important aspect of learning.

Since Kids College began in 2011, the program has expanded to 67 unique sessions over a four-week period. More than 500 spirited students are enrolled this summer, and we’re excited about the fun things they will learn and experience for the first time.

The idea for Kids College developed from a vision that then-president Marsha Drennon and a group of community members had to provide exceptional learning opportunities for youth during the summer. The LearningForce, SFCC’s department that provides community education and workforce training programs and oversees the Small Business & Technology Development Center, coordinates Kids College programming. Joanna Anderson, who became SFCC’s president after Drennon retired, is a strong supporter of Kids College and has even participated in a class.

The goal for Kids College is to bring young people to SFCC’s Sedalia campus and create an environment that makes them excited about learning and exploring new interests, hobbies or career paths while at the same time they are improving skills such as reading, math, critical thinking, problem solving and more. Sessions are interactive, educational and fun, and feature unique activities that provide students with experiences that make the topics come alive.

From the looks on kids’ faces and parents’ kind words of appreciation, we believe we are hitting that goal. Kids College popularity has grown along with the diversity of courses we offer. Each year we add new programs based on community interest, instructor ideas, student and parent feedback, and trends in technical careers. The LearningForce staff work closely with the instructors to develop programs and schedules and provide daily support during the sessions.

Classes are open to children preschool through 10th grade, and students are grouped as four- to five-year-olds, early learners (K-3 grades), mid-level learners (grades 3-6 and 4-8), and Roadrunner, SFCC’s mascot, career explorers (grades 7-10). Course content is based on the STEAM concept (science, technology engineering, arts, and mathematics). The classes challenge students to learn and apply content and skills across the board as they complete real-life projects.

Some of the classes offered include Time Travel: A Taste of Culture; Clay Station; Wild and Wacky Animals; Happy Campers; Mad Science Mania; The Science of Survival; The Art of Ladyship; Safety City; Kids College Theatre; Build Your Own Hovercraft; Gross Science is Cool Science; Dinosaurs, Dirt and Discovery; Me & My Doll Sewing Camp; Everyday Espanola: Conversational Spanish; Kids in the Kitchen; CSI: Forensic Investigator; Emoji Madness; and Gardening for Kids: Creative Planting.

Several years ago, we added Roadrunner Career Exploration courses for older students in health sciences, renewable energy, engineering, chemistry, computers and manufacturing. Some of the classes offered are CNC: The Mystique of Automated Manufacturing; Engineering Design: Build Your Own House; Cool Chemistry; Health Sciences: An Exploration in High Tech Careers; Lego Robotics; and Web Animation. Our newest class is Computers: Repair and Rebuild.

It is gratifying to see many students return year after year and bring younger siblings and friends to Kids College. The instructors, many of whom teach in area school districts or at SFCC, enjoy taking fresh approaches that challenge the children and sending them back to school with new perspectives and an excitement for learning. Moreover, we hope to see many of them attend SFCC when they are ready for college!

Amy Jackson

is the executive director of The LearningForce at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri.