Posted: April 7, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Thousands of elementary and secondary students are expected to participate this summer in camps and other activities on Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses. Some of the camps are free or at relatively low cost.

Many of the camps are intended for fun and enrichment, though most seek to develop academic skills and explore career options, said Cyndy Crist, system director for collaboration with prekindergarten through secondary schools. In recent years, many state colleges and universities have created summer activities specifically to build K-12 students’ skills in science, technology, engineering and math and whet their appetite for college, Crist said.

“When students do well in math and science, they stand a better chance of being ready for college, successful in the workplace and engaged as citizens,” Crist said. “This is particularly important for young people who come from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Many of these students don’t believe college is affordable or that they can succeed in college, particularly if their parents have not attended college. Summer activities on our campuses help them learn that college is possible.”

For example, Adventure Bike Camp, a four-day camp on the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College, will focus on how bikes work and the difference they can make in people’s lives. The camp’s underlying purpose, however, is to strengthen math, science and English skills of students from low-income families and other groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. “What we’ll be going through is hopefully going to be fun, but it’s actually going to be very academic,” said Ramona Caswell, a chemistry instructor at the college who will teach the course.

Other examples of camps intended to build math and science skills include engineering camps for middle school and high school students at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids; a math-science-computer camp for students in grades three through eight at St. Cloud State University; and ZAP camp, a three-day exploration of engineering and manufacturing for middle-school students, offered by South Central College in Faribault and North Mankato.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College, with campuses in Cambridge and Coon Rapids, offers one of the largest summer programs, known as Kid U College, typically drawing about 1,200 students. A wide variety of classes, including those involving the performing arts, visual arts, science, fitness, cultures and languages, culinary arts, law, math, debate and health, is available, said LeAnn Snidarich, Kid U’s director. Scholarships also are available for certain courses.