Daniel Ivey (left), 11, sits with instructor Tom Day, Tuesday afternoon, learning how to launch his own handmade rocket at ENMU-R’s Kids Kollege. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
“Three! Two! One! Blastoff!”
The kids’ voices rang loud and clear out at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Tuesday afternoon. The countdown was followed by a loud “POP!” as homemade rockets were launched into the air.
An annual event, ENMU-R once again hosted Kids Kollege, a week-long series of classes that kids between the ages 8 to 14 can sign up for. One of the more popular and exciting classes was Rockets, where kids built and launched their own soon-to-be-airborne contraptions.
Although a difficult decision to choose rockets over dinosaurs, Daniel Ivey, 11 (and almost 12), ultimately decided on rockets.
“I thought it would be cool to do it again like I did in Cub Scouts,” he said.
Ivey is from Atlanta, but his grandma Margaret Johnson lives in Roswell, and she brought him and his brother to experience Kids Kollege.
“(We have them) come for the educational experiences,” she said. They could only choose two classes, however, and it was not an easy choice.
“They would have liked to do all of them,” Johnson said about the class picking process.
Also watching a grandchild launch rockets was grandpa Ted Hitchcock, whose 8-year-old granddaughter Jennifer Tekut stood, anxiously waiting her turn to test her rocket.
“Kids Kollege is a good thing,” Hitchcock said. “They didn’t have this stuff when I was a kid.”
Johnson agreed that the whole program is a really positive thing for the kids.
“The people with this seem dedicated to the kids and excited to see the kids excited,” she said.
One such personnel involved was ENMU-R Director Jacqueline Shaw, who has been the Kids Kollege coordinator for five years.
“Children come out and enjoy it, and get to see the college and get to do something different,” Shaw said. They try to involve a lot of science, but make the learning fun, she said.
“It’s one of the few fun things the staff gets to do!” she added, laughing.
And after an application for a grant was accepted, Xcel Energy funds the entire program so the kids don’t have to pay tuition to be involved. They simply have to call and register. The only setback is only being able to choose two classes, which was clearly a challenge for many kids who would have loved to participate in more.
Kids Kollege started Monday and will continue having classes through Friday, teaching not only rockets and science related classes, but also offering sewing classes and Frisbee golf. With the variety, every child, regardless of his or her interests, has the opportunity to learn something new.