Riverland Kids College: Learning with rockets

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, July 23, 2008

School-age children are being exposed to college this week through rocket building and animal videos. The Riverland Community College Kids College takes place on the Albert Lea campus all this week, teaching more advanced classes than students would get in their elementary schools.

“I’m learning new stuff and building rockets,” said 10-year-old Nick Christianson Tuesday.

In the beginning of the second day, 12 students and teacher Ken Fiscus, along with volunteer Mike Williams, ran out to the Albert Lea High School parking lot to launch rockets.

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Kids excitedly counted down to the launch, kept their eyes on the rockets as it flew through the air into the sun and ran to the landing site for recovery.

The first rocket launched Monday got stuck in a tree, according to Kids College Coordinator Peggy Young.

After the test launch, the students ran back to Riverland’s Albert Lea campus to work on building their own rockets. Kids will launch their structures Friday at 11 a.m. for friends and family.

Kids College lasts through the morning hours with two classes. The early class was Curious about Critters with KSMQ, where students learn the relationship between animals and the environment. After a short break they headed out to become a rocket engineer.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to come to campus and learn about things they don’t learn about in everyday curriculum,” Young said.

When the students first got there, she said, they were already talking about going to college and post-secondary options. Kids College is for students entering grades four, five and six this coming fall.

“I love it because I’ve never built a rocket before,” said 9-year-old Elora Greiner.

Tuesday students were building and attaching fins to the rocket body. Then they sat down to watch Fiscus’ home video of the shuttle Discovery launch three years ago. Students asked Fiscus all sorts of questions, to which he promptly knew the answer. Fiscus teaches science at Albert Lea High School.

Young said Kids College gives teachers and college professors the opportunity to teach something they might not get to do in their everyday job, such as build rockets.

The students in turn learn more advanced subjects and can keep up their learning skills during the summer months.

“They’re learning about things I didn’t know,” Young said.

Rosanne Holcomb, who works at KSMQ, teaches the Curious about Critters class based on the television show.