They may only be 5 years old, but they were learning in a college classroom.
During a grade-wide field trip on Wednesday, the kindergartners of Old Orchard Elementary School were invited to visit College of the Canyons to tour the campus and visit with college students there.
The college-aged students were assisting with the college’s Outreach and School Relations Department, and are studying to become teachers one day.
The program, dubbed “Kinder Goes to College,” had the students split into groups, with one group touring the campus (many for the first time) while others participated in science and chemistry experiments with the college kids.
From seeing chemical reactions between vinegar and baking soda to seeing how various chemicals change the color of liquids, the experience was educational for both the kindergartners and the COC students hoping to become teachers one day.
“I think it was mutually beneficial relationship,” said Dee Jamison, assistant superintendent of instructional services for the Newhall School District, “where their students could gain experience working with students and our students certainly had a wonderful experience with these young adult mentors.”
The visit to COC, according to Jamison, also gave students an opportunity to, at young age, make college a tangible thing for them.
“I think that going somewhere makes them understand what the word ‘college’ means. It’s a physical place where you go and you learn and it helps you attain your goals,” said Jamison. “Otherwise, it’s just a term — ‘What does that mean? Go to college?’”
“Now, they have that experience,” she added.
NSD Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said that when he thought of the idea to ask COC if they would partner to make it a reality, he thought it would be a powerful experience for both students and parents alike.
“It’s put out there for (the students), it’s a vision for them to be a part of it,” said Pelzel, adding that parents were given the opportunity to volunteer to come along on the trip, as well. “We have some parents who haven’t had an opportunity to step onto a college campus. So this is breaking down those barriers, putting out that vision for where they can get to.”
The end goal, according to Pelzel, is to eventually have similar programs set up with schools such as CSUN, UCLA and USC, with each one taking an individual grade. That way, by the time the students have reached fourth grade, they’ll have visited four college campuses.
“What was really, really great today was seeing those kindergartners step off the bus and say, ‘This is the best day of my life,’” said Pelzel. ’”It’s never too early to start because you don’t know when you’re going to light the spark for a child to say, ‘This is where I want to be.’”
All 10 school sites within the Newhall School District will have their kindergarten classes participate in the “Kinder Goes to College” program before the end of the year, according to officials.