Anoka-Ramsey Kid U brings kids to college for science, art and fun

Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s (ARCC) Kid U program is in its 18th summer of offering a diverse set of summer courses for kids ages four and up.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Kid U student MaKenna Wittman (center) points at birds on the path during Survivor 1’s first class on July 23. Also pictured are Instructor Kerri Rooney (left) and student Tony Marquardt (right). Photo by Bethany Kemming

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Kid U student MaKenna Wittman (center) points at birds on the path during Survivor 1’s first class on July 23. Also pictured are Instructor Kerri Rooney (left) and student Tony Marquardt (right). Photo by Bethany Kemming

In three, four-day sessions from July 16 through Aug. 2, over 500 students at Kid U learned through courses and programs offered at the ARCC Coon Rapids campus. The wide range of courses was designed to trigger their imagination and help them learn while making it fun, according to Kid U Director Lori Amborn.

“They come here and find out they’re comfortable with the campus. They can picture themselves going to college because we really kind of treat them like they’re college kids,” Amborn said.

Amborn said Kid U attempts to offer a balance of science and art as well as a balance for different age groups at every time slot. Kid U has classes at four different time slots, Monday through Thursday.

New classes this year included Hip Hop, Hip Hop Timeline, Latin Extravaganza, Pet Portrait Workshop, Funky 3D Art: Steampunk and Fashion Costume Club.

The most popular classes were the science classes, according to Amborn, as well as the classes Kid U routinely offers, such as Ooey, Gooey, Slimey and Red Cross Babysitter Training.

“We run them frequently but people want them,” Amborn said.

While Medtronic routinely gave Kid U a lump sum scholarship donation in the past, Amborn said the company didn’t this year.

This year The Minneapolis Foundation offered a Santa Anonymous scholarship of $5,000 for children interested in Kid U science classes. Amborn said she has seen the rough economic times affect scholarship funding.

“Our scholarship funding has gone down over the years and especially with this recession, so we think that affects the program,” she said.

Kid U bases its class offerings on student evaluations at the end of the week and enrollment numbers.

Amborn said if a class that is offered doesn’t seem to fit it doesn’t offer it again. If the required minimum of students do not sign up for a class it is canceled.

“We’ve seen the enrollment kind of fall the last couple years,” Amborn said. “I think it’s a direct result to there’s not as much scholarship money and tough economic times, but it’s still a strong program.”

The class instructors come from a variety of places, such as the Minnesota Zoo, Science Explorers or the Science Museum. Art instructors at Kid U are typically art teachers or individuals who have received a degree in art.

Among the many classes, Kid U offered Survivor 1 and Survivor 2 classes. In Survivor 1, students learned about making shelters and testing their survival skills with maps and compasses while working in teams.

Survival 1 Instructor Kerri Rooney said students that sign up for Survivor 1 come from a diverse background of outdoor skills.

“Some kids have never camped or walked in the woods before,” she said.

On the first day of class, Rooney taught students to identify a good shelter spot while observing the height of the land and surroundings.

“If you’re going to survive you’ve got to be observant,” Rooney told students.

Students checked off items they saw in the woods, such as a fallen tree, moss or evidence of rain.

Student Tony Marquardt said he joined Survivor 1 for more knowledge about the outdoors.

“I like to go out in the woods but I don’t know how to do anything in the woods… there’s a lot of woods near my house and we want to build some forts there but didn’t know how,” he said.

Bethany Kemming is at bethany.kemming@ecm-inc.com


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