This summer, Samuel Getchman kept busy. He designed a video game, solved a forensic mystery and escaped a vault.
“I wanted to be able to express my creativity,” he said, “I like exploring. I like expanding my mind.”
He was able to do all three at East Central College’s Summer Learning Academy. Facilitated by Community Education, it provided a unique, fun experience for area youth on the Union campus this summer.
“These classes were designed with curiosity in mind – letting students develop talents and encourage personal growth,” said Program Coordinator Bonnie Devine. “In the past, we’ve offered traditional summer camp-style activities, but we went in a new direction this year.”
Along with the new name, classes were completely redesigned.
“To make this program successful, we knew we needed faculty buy-in,” said Joel Doepker, Vice President of External Relations. “We wanted to bring their knowledge and expertise into the mix. We wanted to strike the right balance between having fun and learning something new.”
Several East Central College instructors jumped at the chance to be a part of Summer Learning Academy. Assistant Professor of Engineering Dr. Isaiah Kellogg created an escape room where students used math and science skills to solve puzzles before the clock ran out. Journalism instructor Leigh Kolb facilitated a student-run online newspaper where students put their reporting skills to the test. Science Laboratory Manager Jennifer Chitwood ran a forensics lab where students were able solve crime mysteries and learn from real law enforcement investigators.
Culinary Program Coordinator Mike Palazzola offered a made-from-scratch pizza class and a dessert bakeshop class for students.
“I always get excited when we have young students in the kitchen,” said Palazzola. “We not only teach them how to cook but also why it’s important to learn about kitchen safety and following instructions.”
The new look and feel of Summer Learning Academy made a difference with enrollment. Nearly 220 students signed up for classes this year, a 70 percent jump over 2017!
“Several classes reached capacity in just a few weeks,” said Devine. “We hope to expand more next year and continue to offer new, exciting classes for area youth.”