Professor Anne Goodwin shows off some of the biology labs' animals at a workshop for Greylock Elementary third graders at MCLA on Wednesday.
NORTH ADAMS - Third grader Jocelyn Hunt can't decide if she's more interested in science or in a possible career working with animals
"I like learning about all the animals but I like doing experiments, too," said Hunt, 9, at a Greylock Elementary School trip to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Wednesday morning.
Organized in collaboration with the college's admission office and the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education, the day of events was more than just a normal field trip.
"Many third graders may not have even ever though about college at such a young age, so we're working to get them interested in what colleges have to offer," said Katie Dubendorf, a freshman admissions counselor at MCLA. "The main goal is to get them in here, have fun and learn something."
With an itinerary that included workshops in the physics and biology labs and games in the theater, the school kids were introduced to some of the campus' most captivating activities. The hands-on, interactive events were specifically designed to complement the students' current curriculum, concentrating on fun ways to bring their lessons to life.
"We call it going to college to get some knowledge," said Greylock Elementary teacher Melissa Boyer. "They're off to college today and right now, we're enjoying the experience of being at MCLA and enjoying what the school has to offer."
The kids kicked off the day with a chemistry experiment before moving on to stations that focused on different disciplines. From feeding anemones in the biology department to learning how to project their voices when on stage in the theater to learning about circuits in a physics classroom, elementary school children were paired with MCLA students who were more than happy to share what they'd learned in school.
"A day like today shows these kids everything that college has to offer beyond school. In some classes, you can move around, you can express yourself. It makes them excited about college at a young age," said Mary Domenichelli, a senior arts management and theater major who helped organize the acting workshops.
Some of the students even made an unscheduled visit to MCLA's TV studio, where they learned what it was like to be on camera or how it feels to be in the control room.
"It's good for them to get an idea of all of the departments and all of the different things you can learn in college," said Dubendorf.
MCLA officials also hoped this pilot program - called "Berkshire Higher Education Passport" - would help engage families in the community to consider higher education while their children are still young.
"We're making it a family affair. We hope a visit to the college can translate into the home and urge parents to get their kids interested in college right from the start," said Dubendorf.
Densire Richardello, MCLA's vice president of enrollment and external relations, said the main goal of the Passport program is to instill in area children a desire to eventually attend any institution of higher learning.
"We're attempting to look at dissolving the barriers that keep students from moving on to college," Richardello said. "The real idea is to raise the aspirations of kids to go to college."
During the tour, though, the Greylock Elementary School students weren't too worried about college just yet but they were excited to be part of it all.
"I can't pick one thing I liked the best. I liked it all," said Aubrey Rumbolt, 8, while trying to turn a light bulb on, just using a battery and some wires. "Maybe sometimes college can be fun. You know, when you don't have to take a quiz."
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OMG!!! I rember that! Now I'm in 6TH grade!!!!! YAY!!