BY CAROL ROEHM
A mystery was solved Friday morning at Danville Area Community College. After a week’s worth of decoding cryptic messages, testing chemicals in the lab at the Mary Miller Center and interrogating suspects, the fifth- through eighth-grade students in College for Kids’ K-CSI Kids Crime Scene Investigation class figured out who killed fictitious character John Love.
K-CSI is one of more than 35 College for Kids’ classes being offered to third- through eighth-graders this summer. Some of the other class offerings include American Sign Language, ancient Egypt, astronomy, kitchen science, LEGO robotics and TV production.
About 75 children participated in three weeklong College for Kids experiences, which ended Friday. The next weeklong College for Kids program will be held July 15-19.
College for Kids, which started in 1980, provides children with educational opportunities during the summer months and helps them to grow accustomed to life on a college campus. The goal of the summer enrichment program is to provide fresh and fun subject matter to motivate children and keep them challenged and active during the summer.
College for Kids used to offer activities for one hour a day for two weeks; that schedule changed about five years ago so that a full day of activities is offered for one week in June and again for one week in July to accommodate parents.
College for Kids provides hands-on, in-depth exploration in specialized fields of knowledge; opportunities for children to reach levels of intellectual stimulation that exceed those acquired in the regular classroom setting; and challenging experiences and necessary tools to develop special interests in the subject areas offered.
Retired teachers, teachers and college-age students who are majoring in elementary education lead the activities.
Mallory Buss, a recent college graduate in elementary education, has taught College for Kids classes for five years. This year was her second year teaching K-CSI.
“Every year is a new experience with the kids,” Buss said.
“My favorite day of the week is going into the lab with the kids and testing the chemicals in the lab because that’s something they wouldn’t normally get to do,” she said.
Buss sets up the crime scene on the first day of class, then the students go to work to figure out “who did it.”
Twelve-year-old Zach Kietzmann explained, “We decoded a cryptogram, tested hair samples and blood splatters, and we tested a powder with chemicals in the Mary Miller lab. We also interrogated four different people.”
In the end, Zach said confidently, “We solved the crime of who killed John Love.”
Katie Thompson, 10, said she enjoyed K-CSI because “I’m someone who likes mysteries and solving crimes. I like to watch ‘Monk.’”
Besides K-CSI, Katie participated in classes called Experiments, Experiments and More Experiments and Pinteresting crafts.
“Our teacher is a member of Pinterest, so she found some ideas on there and then we made the craft item,” she said as she held a ball of glittery galaxy clay that she made in class.
Zach and fellow K-CSI classmate Alex Vecellio, 12, both participated in LEGO robotics and Caine’s Arcade, in which arcade games are created from cardboard.
When asked which College for Kids activity he liked best this week, Alex said, “I can’t pick one. I liked them all.”
Another K-CSI classmate Jaden Simmons said this was the first year he enrolled in College for Kids. The 11-year-old participated in Experiments, Experiments and More Experiments, as well as TV production.
“It was cool,” he said of what he learned at College for Kids.
The next weeklong College for Kids program will be held July 15-19. All classes are held Monday through Friday. The cost is $45 per class or stay the week for $135 with hot lunch included.
Register online at www.dacc.edu/cce. For more information, call 554-1667 or 554-1668 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.