Mini-university becomes environmentally friendly

Jun 12, 2003, vol. 27, no. 4
By Marianne Meadahl

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Elementary-age kids attending SFU's mini-university this summer will get more than a pint-sized view of subjects like criminology, biology or kinesiology. They'll also get a crash course in being environmentally conscious.

SFU summer camps coordinator Peter Koci (left) says that message will be worked into the courses taught during the 10-day programs to get kids thinking more about the environment and their role in maintaining it.

“It can't hurt to get them thinking about ideas like saving energy, or even on a larger scale, what to consider when designing an environmentally friendly building,” says Koci, who is also a graduate student in environmental education.

Mini-university has been part of SFU's summer programming since the university's inception. It offers young people the chance to experience university subjects while continuing to learn through the summer.

Several years ago it was revamped and two streams were developed. Today students can choose one of the following four-course programs: media and broadcasting, computer science, brain and behaviour, and sport and performance; or criminology, chemistry, business and engineering.

Mini-university combines two hours of recreation, such as theatre sports, wall climbing and swimming, with four hours of classes that emphasize hands-on learning.

Nearly 6,000 kids are heading for SFU's Burnaby campus in July and August, proving that learning doesn't have to stop come summer.

While more than 600 will participate in the typically sold out mini-university, others will take part in week-long camps. Many will try the popular sport or confidence-building camps.

Other camps target the science-minded, computer buffs and even the musically inclined, with the recent addition of camps teaching the bagpipes, snare drum and the underpinnings of the symphony.

Other camps include Clan Kids, which provides arts and crafts as well as recreation time. The Sights, Sounds and CPUs camp challenges kids' computer skills and introduces them to programming, multimedia and animation.

Science Alive camps teach an awareness of the everyday relevance of science. Girl Power encourages a positive self-image and healthy lifestyle in girls between the ages of 10 -12.

SFU coaches teach a variety of sport camps, while outdoor adventure camps take kids hiking or kayaking.

This summer, SFU's new Surrey campus will offer two camps in interactive arts and technology, one for girls in grades 6-7 and another for aboriginal children. They'll learn to create multimedia projects and computer games, and focus on other issues, such as safe web-surfing and careers in technology.

Koci has been coordinating SFU's program for eight years and says in recent years most camps have been selling out.

While the concept has grown in popularity, improved marketing, new programs and a greater emphasis on program scheduling have played a role in keeping the campus teeming with youths.

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