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Lots of Learning at BGJHS

By Justin Story, The Daily News, jstory@bgdailynews.com

School may be out for the summer, but a lot of learning is happening at Bowling Green Junior High School, thanks to a summer science camp.

Local elementary and middle school students are gathering at BGJHS each Friday to take part in Fantastic Science Fridays, a science camp offered for students who have completed grades four to eight that will give them hands-on experience working with science and math concepts.

In the program, students meet each Friday for three weeks. They learn about concepts in probability, chemistry and other facets of math and science through creative activities in classes such as Dry Ice Investigations, Bubble Festival and Crime Lab Chemistry.

“It’s pretty fun and interesting,” said Austin Meredith, of Bowling Green, a 10-year-old who recently completed fourth grade at Natcher Elementary School. “I’ve never seen anything like dry ice before. There are a lot of experiments we’ve been doing that I’ve never done before.”

The students aren’t the only ones at Fantastic Science Fridays with something to learn.

The teachers at each class are recent college graduates from across the state who have come here to practice for a career in teaching through a Western Kentucky University program called GSKyTeach.

Vicki Metzgar, education co-director of the program, said that 15 recent graduates with degrees in the field of math and science are getting some of their first hands-on experience teaching and interacting with students this summer before they go to Jefferson County Schools for the 2010-11 academic year as student teachers.

A total of $5 million in funding from several foundations and grants has helped start the GSKyTeach program.

The local science camp resulted from a partnership between WKU and the Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science.

“Our hope with this is that everybody wins, because the kids are learning a lot in a great camp, and the college students get a little teaching experience before they go to Jefferson County,” Metzgar said.

This past Friday was the second week for fourth- and fifth-grade students at Fantastic Science Fridays.

James Hannon, a teacher in the program, said the camp is giving him a worthwhile experience.

A recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a degree in chemistry, Hannon said he plans to become a high school chemistry teacher, but working with elementary school students in the camp is helping him prepare for his career.

“This is providing us an opportunity to interact with children from many different backgrounds,” said Hannon, of Florence, who has been teaching the Crime Lab Chemistry course. “Any hands-on teaching experience is always good, especially when you’re getting to work with children younger than the ones you’re going to be teaching. It’s good to get a different perspective.”

Middle school students can still register for Fantastic Science Fridays for children in grades six to eight, Metzgar said.

The deadline to register for grades six to eight is Monday. The cost of the entire program is $25 per student. All sessions are at BGJHS from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 9, 16 and 23.

To register, pick up a registration form at BRIMS at 1229 Center St. or download the form from www.brimsbg.org.

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