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UK College of Education Teaches Young Students College Can Be Fun

It’s not in the least unusual to see large groups of young people walking across the University of Kentucky campus. What does make some in the campus community pause and give certain groups a second look — even a smile — is that some of those young people are far, far shorter and younger than the norm.

On a regular basis, especially during the warmer months of the academic year, scores of small and large groups of schoolchildren — obviously of elementary, middle or high school age — make extended visits to campus, escorted by their teachers and hosted by the UK College of Education. Although there’s always a small element of fun and excitement associated with a school outing to a “grown up” campus, most of the young Kentucky citizens leave with new knowledge, new experiences and new enlightenments.

“College just doesn’t intimidate me anymore,” said 16-year-old Desmond Bernard, a wide receiver for the Bryan Station High School football team who spends more than 20 hours each week in UK classrooms and labs, as an intern and part-time student. “The exposure and networking have changed my life. I’m already set up academically for college.”

Indeed, he is. Bernard already has several hours of college credit. He has learned to speak Chinese, and through his association with the UK Confucius Institute has visited China.

Bernard’s friend, Isaiah McCall, also 16 and also banking college credit, is a Fayette County STEAM Academy intern for the College of Education, earning experience in graphic design and statistics.

“I feel like I’m getting a head start on life. I’m focusing on career readiness, and I feel that with these opportunities I can hit the ground running. I’m learning habits of the mind, and it makes you grow up fast and responsibly.”

Bernard and McCall were attending an introductory biodynamics lecture by Michael Pohl, assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, with 30 Fayette County STEAM Academy freshmen. The visit was arranged by the College of Education in recognition of National Biomechanics Day earlier this month. The STEAM Academy group went on to visit interactive demonstrations of bioengineering in the College of Health Sciences Musculoskeletal Laboratory directed by Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences Timothy Uhl and then on to a demonstrative lecture by Babak Bazrgari, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the biomechanics lab of the College of Engineering’s Center for Biomedical Engineering.

Later, enjoying lunch in The 90 with his classmates, John Deangelo said, “You can’t do things like this on a normal field trip. This was really neat!”

Jenna Strange added, “I liked the running demonstration (in Pohl’s lab). It’s something I can relate to because I run myself, and we can all relate to it because science like this is something we all want to do in the future.”

“I liked it because it opened our eyes to the different stuff we can do within science. It’s not just one big category,” Walid Mbaya said.

Two students, Michael Pennington and Xavier Brown, said the experience made them want to pursue their academic careers here at UK.

“This trip made me want to become an athletic trainer and study here at UK,” Brown said.

Article courtesy of UK Public Relations and Marketing/Gail Hairston