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UW-P's College for Kids helps students think outside the toolbox

Woodworking and a science class featuring catapults are some of the offerings at UW-Platteville's annual College for Kids.

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:35 am, Tue Jul 9, 2013.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- A battle broke out in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Boebel Hall early Monday afternoon.

Amanda Trewin instructed eight first- and second-graders about toys and science during the first day of UW-P's annual College for Kids. The curriculum included making a button-and-string whirligig, roller coaster BBs and a catapult. The intent is to make science fun.

"I like to take and do hands-on science activities with kids to get them interested about science," said Trewin, a UW-P biology professor. "These activities are something they can take back home with them."

While Trewin's students took home marshmallow catapults, Gary Munson's third- and fourth-graders took home toolboxes from his woodworking class.

"Very few kids get the chance to work with wood, and I want them to make something they can actually use," said Munson, a retired Platteville School District teacher. "Plus, they help each other solve problems, use tools they've never used and then feel a sense of accomplishment."

Munson taught the use of abrasives, fasteners and the different types of wood.

Dubuquer Dezirae Schultz, 9, who attends Bryant School, was enjoying herself.

"I really love woodworking," she said, explaining that her father, Brian, is an avid woodworker who works with her. "I know I like it, and it's really, really fun."

In addition to fun, Munson said, there is a sense of accomplishment.

"What's fun is that when they walk out, they'll be so proud of what they do," he said.

The same could be true of the science class. The catapults teach both potential and kinetic energy. Youngsters built catapults using a block of wood, a clothespin, rubber bands, a plastic spoon and a wooden tongue depressor.

Drew Piper, 8, of Dodgeville, watched intently as Trewin explained how to build the launcher. He learned it wasn't that easy, and Trewin and her brother-in-law Dean Trewin, of Platteville, aided the youngsters.

"It looked easy when you showed us," said Drew, who attends the camp because he "just likes having fun."

For the roller coaster, youngsters in three teams had to figure out how to send a BB through a long, flexible tube, through a series of loops and into a cup.

Aidan Amin, 8, of Platteville, explained he wanted to learn new things at the camp and see his friends.

Michael Loeffelholz, an incoming Platteville Westview Elementary School third-grader, was looking forward to an upcoming dinosaur-building class. He was attending college because summer school classes had filled up.

"The better reason is my friends are doing it, and I like learning stuff," he said.

The catapult building concluded with a contest of who could shoot a mini-marshmallow the farthest and a two-team marshmallow-shooting battle outside of a third-floor classroom. It was a war with giggles, laughs and cheers.

The four-day camp that concludes on Thursday attracted 180 youngsters in grades kindergarten through ninth. The camp, in its 32nd year, uses teachers from the surrounding area, UW-P staff and professors.

"It's a little chaotic," said Beth Harbin, youth coordinator of the office of continuing education, of the moments leading up the classes. "There's fun in the chaos because the kids are excited."

She explained the classes are always evolving.

"It's always changing," Harbin said. "Nothing ever seems the same. There's so much variety. You never get bored."

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