Summer Institute offers children the chance to explore careers, creativity

Students piece together their architecture projects at the 2019 COC Summer Institute at College of the Canyons Friday morning. Cory Rubin/The Signal

After a week of exploring subjects like robotics, photography and genetic engineering, local middle-schoolers completed their final session of the 2019 College of the Canyons’ Summer Institute Friday.

This year’s institute occurred across two separate weekly sessions and sought to provide students with hands-on career exploration and learning opportunities, school officials previously said, adding all instructors are COC professors or industry professionals who tailored their curricula for students in grades six to eight.

Having served as the institute’s architectural instructor for a few years now, Joe Ramirez said Friday that he’s been able to see the benefits of the experience firsthand. 

“(The Summer Institute) really teaches students to think outside the box and it provides exposure to new concepts they otherwise might not have heard of,” Ramirez said. “The hard part is they only have a week to grasp everything that’s thrown at them, but the good is that I get them from 9 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.); so they’re all mine in that time.”

Ramirez added it’s important to challenge the children throughout the week so the scholars don’t find themselves struggling to stay competitive in college like he did while studying architecture at Cal Poly.

This is why Ramirez instructed this summer’s architectural cohort to build their dream house, complete with landscaping, support beams and the many other luxurious amenities that architects must remember when designing for clients.

“It’s the experience and exposure that really allows them to thrive,” Ramirez said. “In the beginning, they’re always unsure how to go about it,” but after he provides some direction — usually in the form of a question — the children almost always end up constructing detailed projects that amaze Ramirez and his fellow instructors.

“It really gets them excited and most of the time they don’t want to leave. It’s always, ‘Do we have to go to break? Can’t I stay in for lunch?’” Ramirez said.

Along with the mathematical and architectural concepts, students also learn time and resource management, how to work in groups and other pertinent skills that are needed for success after high school, Assistant Architectural Instructor Kimmi Le said. “A lot of times (students) will be frustrated but they will overcome that and feel better about themselves in the end.”

In fact, some of the students participating in this week’s institute said they have aspirations of becoming pilots, artists and millionaires, but no matter what their dream is, most believed the institute was beneficial to them.

“It will definitely help us when we’re in class,” said Kendra Landeen, who will enter 7th grade at Rio Norte Junior High School this August, “because I’ll remember to think outside of the box and come at problems differently than (how) I would’ve before this.”

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