Fifth Graders Go to College


If you happened to notice some particularly young-looking students walking around  campus last month, relax – no need to think you’ve suddenly aged 20 years and are in need of stronger glasses. Those youthful students you might have seen on the Long Walk or in Mather were probably taking part in the “Fifth Graders Go to College” program. Coordinated by the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, the program brings fifth grade students from Hartford public schools to area college campuses where they hear about college life and are given information about future career options. About 20 Trinity students from Alpha Delta Phi played host to the youngsters, exposing them to college life in an interesting, informative, and fun way.

Trinity has been welcoming the elementary school students to campus since the late 90s, along with other schools in the consortium. In the early days of the program the College would host approximately 30 students, but the program has expanded in the last couple of years. This year there were roughly 200 students involved, with their visits to Trinity spread over two days. The consortium’s goal is to allow every fifth grader in the Hartford public school system to visit an area college.

While on campus, the students attended a presentation by Associate Professor of Biology Scott Smedley, entitled “Insects Rule!” They also had an opportunity to learn about robotics from a group of engineering students, participated in interactive classroom activities during a visit to the Raether Center, and witnessed an electric fish demonstration by Associate Professor of Biology Kent Dunlap and his students. The fifth graders were astounded to learn that the South American fish produce weak electric discharges in order to communicate with each other. Before their visit to Trinity was complete, the elementary school students took part in a clinic put on by members of the men’s basketball team and had lunch in both Mather dining hall and Hamlin.

“We’re happy to participate in this program with the rest of the consortium schools,” says Director of Community Service and Civic Engagement Joe Barber, whose office coordinates the visit each year. “It provides a wonderful opportunity for local kids to visit our campus and learn about some of the possibilities that attending college can offer. It’s also a great chance for our students to interact with fifth graders in the role of hosts and mentors. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone involved. We’re already looking forward to next year.”


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