College Classes for Local Kids

Renee -- November 7th, 2008

JMU and the local schools are partnering to offer fun and educational courses for children in the “College for Kids” program. Topics include “Lego Robotics”, “Video Game Design”, and “A Taste of World Languages,” (which introduces kids to the Arab and Russian languages, traditions, and food).  The courses are taught by JMU Faculty and community experts, and are offered to children in grades 5-8.

In some courses, the students will be exposed to advanced technology available at the University, including digital video tools in the “Future Filmmakers of America” course, and the new “Science on a Sphere” global visualization tool in the “VisualEyes” class.

Courses in the arts are also offered, including 2 hands-on art classes, a Steel Drum music class, and “The Play’s the Thing” which is taught by an “education-artist” from Staunton’s American Shakespeare Theatre.

The cost is $120 for kids in the Harrisonburg City, Rockingham, Page, and Shenandoah County school systems and $180 for any other participant. The courses occur on Saturday mornings for 6 weeks in January and February.

Details about registration are available here:

A list of courses can be found at this link:

13 Responses to “College Classes for Local Kids”

  1. Thanh says:

    Thanks for sharing Renee! This is a very intersting and great opportunity for young students. Its interesting to me, to see young student’s exposure to different technologies. I read on a local teacher’s blog 6 month’s ago (I can’t remember her or the blog’s name), about her experience giving her elementary school aged students digital cameras and them making videos using the cameras and I think ibooks/macs. It was really neat to read about and watch, and the students appeared to enjoy themselves and learned a lot.

  2. Renee says:

    Yeah I thought it was really neat, too – I would’ve loved something like this when I was a kid!

  3. Justin C says:

    Nice story Renee. This really is an amazing program. I’m slightly biased b/c I worked with it last year teaching the video game design course and plan to again this year.

    That said, the experience that all of the classes offer is very powerful. Everything is very hands on and all the classes share what they learned with the other classes. The worst part for most kids was seeing the other classes and wanting to take them too because they were all fun.

    Speaking from the video game design portion, after 5 weeks there were 8 year olds learning how to use functions to simplify the process of creating an application. That literally is college level stuff, mostly accomplished by a fantastic, free, open source software kit called Alice.

    So parents, this is a great program.

  4. Scott Rogers says:

    I attended the graduation ceremony, as my nephew was involved in the program. I was blown away at the diversity of course offerings how passionate the kids were about what they were learning. A great partnership between JMU and the H’burg community!

    The steel drum finale was a big hit! :)

  5. The Valley Progressive says:

    Is there a process by which I could sponsor/give a scholarship to a few kids who might not otherwise be able to afford the experience?

  6. Emmy says:

    What a good question VP!

    My kids aren’t old enough for this yet, but my oldest would go nuts for the Lego robotics! I hope they keep offering this!

  7. The Valley Progressive says:

    Thank you Emmy. I have donated several thousands of dollars over the past few years to the library and have underwritten many scholarships. I enjoy doing this and would like to help out such a wonderful project as the “College for Kids” program.

  8. Justin C says:

    Emmy, you can get into lego robotics even without those courses. It is amazingly easy. There is a pretty strong movement to expand the lego robotics learning opportunities. Nick Swayne put on a competition last year with the Children’s Museum. With JMU they received a grant to provide the lego robot kits to middle school teachers along with training ( ).

    Valley Progressive, I don’t know the exact person to speak to about scholarships but I could guess two names. Nick Swayne (mentioned above) and Sarah McDonald. Both I believe work for the College of Education at JMU. Post on here if you have trouble contacting them.

  9. The Valley Progressive says:

    Thanks for the info, I’d like to sponsor 3-4 students, I think that it’d be a great experience for them. I’ve also contributed to the Children’s Museum so maybe Nick can fill me in. Thanks again.

  10. Christa says:

    Sounds like something I’d like to contribute too also. Someone let me know how to go about it.
    My grandson and I spend time at the Children’s Museum about 2 times a week. I’d love to help out there also.

  11. Renee says:

    What a great question about sponsoring kids to go. This would be an invaluable experience for underprivileged kids, and I can imagine may interest some in college that may not have aspired for it before.

    It looks like Justin C had some suggestions for contacts, and I would also recommend calling the phone number on the press release for registration (linked in the post) – they may have direct contact with people that are interested in registering but not able to afford it.

  12. ammc says:

    Big fan of this program, followed the link and it looks awesome! Some of the most important educational experiences I had as a kid were programs like these. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for everyone’s positive comments! We’re very excited to offer College for Kids again this year, and are looking forward to a great program.

    We really appreciate the generous offers here to sponsor a few children who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend; we know that the need is there. Anyone who is interested in sponsoring a child can contact me at macdonsk at jmu dot edu, or (540)568-7958.

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