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Kindergarteners learn about the effects of acids on metal at Kids College 2013.WILMORE, Ky. — Through the chatter of a dozen kindergarteners, a soft voice spoke up from the center of the table: “I think I’d like to change my hypothesis.”

The hypothesis in question concerned which type of solution would best clean a handful of pennies. (Plain water, soapy water and vinegar were among the options.) Apart from cleaning pennies, however, the children were learning something fundamental about the scientific method: how to make observations, predict possibilities and experiment.

Making science fun and relevant to daily life has been a hallmark of Kids College, an annual outreach by Asbury University’s chapter of Sigma Zeta, the math and science honor society, for years. Over the weekend, 230 kids ranging in age from kindergarten to eighth grade — some coming from up to two hours away — divided into morning and afternoon sessions of interactive, age-targeted activities in biology, chemistry and physics. More than 50 science, math and education majors at Asbury planned experiments, answered questions and guided the kids from station to station.

“Kids College is very hands-on, and the kids really like that they get to do the experiments and not just listen,” Sigma Zeta President Alex Sizemore said. “That’s a big factor in why they love it so much.” 

Elementary-school students created molecules with foam and toothpicks.Many participants are home-schooled, and attending Kids College is an opportunity for them to become familiar with practices and equipment in biology and chemistry labs.

“The setting makes them feel official, and they like the college ‘scene,’” said Neysa Southworth, a homeschooling mother of third- and seventh-grade students in Georgetown, Ky. “The boys particularly enjoyed the explosions in chemistry, and my daughter loved seeing the insides of different creatures.”

Asbury University offers advanced science labs for high-school aged homeschoolers in both the Fall and Spring semesters. For more information, contact Assistant Professor and homeschool coordinator Ann Witherington.