Youth Programs Leave Lasting Influence for Future Careers
Another class of youngsters has completed Penn State DuBois' Summer youth programs, Kids in College (KIC), and the Art, Science and Technology Institute (AST). The kids who attended the programs this year, just like all those before them, may have a big advantage over others as they move through school and into careers. Recent studies show that children who participate in supplemental educational programs develop stronger aptitudes for many fields, particularly "STEM" fields, which are Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
"So many of the courses are really designed to help children developmentally," said Summer Youth Program Coordinator Jeannine Hanes. She explained that many courses offer children early exposure to fields like engineering, forensics, and sciences. At the same time, teaching methods are designed to hold the attention of the youngest students. Hanes continued, "Many of the classes use music or hands-on projects to help children learn. Research shows that music and creative exercises help to increase IQ and increase the ability to learn. It also makes the classes fun, which makes the kids want to be involved and learn more."
One course, for example, uses advanced Lego systems, and requires the children to design and build simple machines using the blocks and other components in a provided kit. Another course uses hands-on lessons to demonstrate the history of mapping and navigation and how it has evolved from the use of magnetic compasses to modern Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and from paper maps to 3D computerized images. Courses like these, Hanes said, help children with the early development of skills related to STEM fields.
The journal, Education Week, in fact, recently published the results of a long-term study that tracked high-performing students over a 25 year period. It concluded that students who were exposed to STEM courses at an early age were more likely to pursue advanced studies or careers in sciences and related fields.
Taking place after the school year is completed, KIC and AST programs also keep children engaged in learning during the summer break, and offer unique activities that can supplement their school's curriculum.
"KIC allows teachers to include hands-on learning experiences that kids may not have the opportunity to participate in during the school year," Hanes said.
KIC programs are for youth from infants through grade six. Art, Science, and Technology Institute programs are for youth grades 7-12. AST programs contain enrichment classes specially designed for middle and high school students.