Program for youngsters provides 'building blocks' for the future

Kids in College (KIC) and the Art, Science and Technology Institute (AST) at Penn State DuBois are in full swing, and this year the programs are literally providing building blocks for future education. Robotics with Lego and the Motorized Lego Lab are among the week-long courses offered by the award-winning educational summer youth program this year. The course gives youngsters an early introduction to the fields of physics and engineering.

"The Lego courses are really popular," said KIC Coordinator, Suanne Doran, noting that varying levels of the courses are offered for different age groups. "It's the perfect program. The kids are building elaborate things and learning the basics of engineering, but using a toy and having fun while they're doing it."

For grades two through four students are introduced to simple machines. Levers, pulleys and incline planes are covered with the Lego kits. According to student Austin Moore, of Brockway, the blocks and other Lego gadgets make learning fun.

"I like it. I like learning about science and machines," he said.

For kids in grades five and six, the Robotics with Lego course gets their creative juices flowing. They construct robots and machines to navigate obstacle courses, dance to music and perform simple tasks while learning problem solving skills and gaining experience in the field of robotics engineering. Craig Stringer, engineering professor at Penn State DuBois, instructs the KIC robotics course and is excited about this method of reaching youth.

"It's a fun way to learn math and science," Stringer said. "Some of these kids have already gone home and asked their parents to buy these Lego sets for them. My goal is to get everyone of them to ask for these for Christmas, and then you know you're reaching them and getting them interested in engineering."

More than 50 additional courses are offered through KIC and AST this summer, including another LEGO Robotics class for middle school students and others that include topics such as space, pets, dinosaurs, theatre, jewelry making, sports, and more.

For more information, contact Sueann Doran at (814) 375-4716. Registration information and a full list of courses is also available on the Web at www.dubois.psu.edu/youth.

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Last Updated June 30, 2009