Middle school is a precarious time as young students navigate changes in themselves and their academics. They’re not quite high school students, but no long little elementary school kids. For three days this summer, a group of 7th and 8th graders were college students as they participated in the first Junior Cougars Scholars Camp at the UH Honors College.
“The idea is to introduce them to the Honors College at UH, for them to see the facilities that we have and to meet professors,” said Professor John Harvey, director of the Center for Creative Work. “It’s a unique experience where professors, who are usually engaged with 18 to 26 year olds, are now interacting with 7th and 8th graders. It demonstrates to the students and their parents that there is something really unique going on here.”
The 22 students from various Houston-area middle schools learned about college and college life through subjects like biology, engineering, politics and creative writing, working with award-winning scholars at the college. Students sat in real classrooms, took tours of the campus and started to see themselves as college students.
“I liked the experiments, like with engineering, making stereos out of paper plates and making homemade lightning,” said Janel Segura, who will be in 8th grade next year. “You get a taste of what college is like; you get to experience what campus life is like; you get to see how teachers act when you do stuff and see how they teach. It’s pretty cool to get that experience before you go to college.”
A Quiz Bowl competition on the final day of the camp extended the good times as it tested their knowledge.
“Wow this campus is amazing and I might want to go here when I graduate from high school,” said Harold Owens, a soon-to-be 8th grader. “It opens your eyes to all the possibilities that you have so you can start thinking about where you want to go in life.”
Harvey says one word describes the experience for him—humbling.
“They begin to see this as a journey through education and that actually what they’re doing in middle school connects with what they’ll be doing in college. It’s an amazing moment. They’re forming and you’re seeing this formation in front of you,” Harvey said.
Junior Cougars Scholars Camp is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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