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Minnesota West hosts Kids' College

WORTHINGTON -- Most college students don't get to take classes in kayaking, rocketry, flower-arranging, photography and painting in the same week, but students going into fifth through eighth grade had the opportunity to do just that this week as part of Kids' College at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

"I was going to do a smiley face but then I thought I'd do Pac-man," said seventh-grader Mark Demuth, as he drew a picture of the video game character using fabric crayons.

Later, Demuth and his teacher, Bobbie Alsgaard-Lien, transferred the Pacman drawing to a T-shirt together.

"Staying out and meeting new friends and meeting the mentors" was Demuth's favorite part of Kids' College this year. He took classes in flower arranging, kayaking, PowerPoint and art.

Alsgaard-Lien's class spent most of the week painting pop-art pictures of insects using glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint. Under a blacklight, the completed creepy-crawly portraits glowed weirdly in surreal neon colors.

"Having the older students was a real joy," Alsgaard-Lien said as she helped students transfer their hand-made art to T-shirts Thursday.

Down the hall, another teacher was patiently explaining the difference between a democracy and a republic to his students, who diligently took notes just as they would in a normal classroom.

In Flower Power, students learned how to arrange flowers, along with some plant science, from Jean Schoenfeld. Each student received some greenery and several types of flowers and then got to create their own three-sided arrangements.

Even the more educational topics, such as nutrition, were all fun and games at Kids' College.

One group of students made their own fruit kabobs and then participated in a quiz-show style game about nutrition, shouting out answers gleefully even when they weren't absolutely positive.

Meanwhile, in Brittany Larson's photography class, students were completing the frames for the close-up pictures they had taken earlier in the week. The photographs were accompanied by artwork of the same image, done in paint, oil pastels or colored pencils. Youths then placed their art in frames they had made themselves.

The subject for the close-up varied with each student. A few took elegant pictures of flowers in the park, but others opted to show a fishing bobber, a hazardous voltage sign or a fire hydrant in close up.

"I love these kinds of flowers," said fifth-grader Katie Rogers, as she painted yellow petals on her canvas. Her favorite class was rocketry, but she liked Kids College because she likes learning about many different things.

"It's fun," she added.

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