Youth attend Camp Revamp at Russell Area Technology CenterBy MIKE JAMES
Perched behind a yellow safety line, a gaggle of goggled youths watched the cutter.
Like a giant Etch-A-Sketch, it burned a precise path through a sheet of heavy-gauge steel, cutting out a license plate shaped plaque with Zach Klingler’s name on it.
“We’re learning how the plasma cutter works,” said Klingler, who will be in eighth grade this fall. “It’s science and engineering ... science rocks.”
Klingler and the other children had designed the words they wanted burned onto the plates on a dingy but a powerful computer mounted beside the cutter did the work. In so doing, they were combining disciplines that are ubiquitous in the work world, said Shawn Parsons, a computer aided design instructor at the Russell Area Technology Center.
“Computers and robots are everywhere we look now,” Parsons said. “A lot of these kids are math and science students. They’re getting to see some of the real-world applications of what they’ve learned.”
The children in the shop Tuesday were among 21 who signed up for a science-oriented day camp called Camp Revamp at the center. For the rest of the week they will be taking apart and reassembling computers, learning graphics and games, and using software such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
“We want to get the kids excited about technology and how it all goes together,” camp director Brenda Martin said.
Computers are so integral to daily life that children need some familiarity with their inner workings, she said. That way, they won’t be intimidated when a system crashes or a component malfunctions.
“They will develop an early confidence in technology,” Martin said.
The camp drew children in two age brackets: kindergarten through fourth grade and fifth through eighth grades.
The younger ones, who got their chance with the plasma cutter later in the afternoon, spent the morning discussing finance and designing PowerPoint presentations, said Keri Renfroe, an office technology instructor.
“What really amazes us is that they know so much more about technology than we give them credit for,” Renfroe said.
Even the kindergartners can manipulate PowerPoint without prompting, she said.
It also keeps their minds sharp during the summer doldrums. “It keeps them focused on education.”
The camp is sponsored by the Northeastern Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (www.nekage.webs.com) and United Communities to Advance our Neighborhoods (www.ucanchange.webs.com).
MIKE JAMES can be reached at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2652.
Local Briefs: 01/20/09Classroom needs topic of meeting
Words of Thanks — 01/26/08
How many have attended a community meeting about math that drew teachers, administrators, parents and students? On Jan. 17, I heard Dr. Linda Jensen Sheffield tell how to “Mentor Creative Mathematical Minds.”
Mayor Steve Gilmore welcomed her and ACTC President Greg Adkins introduced her. Dr. Sheffield informed and challenged her audience.
I thank Dr. Sheffield for bringing her important message to this community; ACTC for partnering with the Northeastern Kentucky Association for Gifted and Talented Education to provide publicity and a special venue for the evening; Brenda Martin, NEKAGE president, for her efforts in making sure as many as possible attended.
We appreciated the solar cell demonstration of Adam Walters and Brian Bailey, students of Russell teacher Jon Aldrich. Special thanks to Ashland, Russell, and Boyd County schools for providing PD credit for teachers, who along with student teachers, parents and interested citizens provided the enthusiastic audience for this event.
Trish Hall, Arts Council of Northeastern Kentucky
Expert: Children's mastery of math vital
NKU professor to speak Thursday at ACTC
Mike James/The Independent
Ashland — Research shows math to be a top indicator of future success from early childhood through high school, an internationally known math educator says.
“At the prekindergarten and kindergarten level, math success is a stronger predictor of school success than reading,” said Linda Sheffield, regents professor of mathematics education at Northern Kentucky University and visiting professor at the University of Kentucky.
“The number of math courses taken in high school is the greatest predictor of the money they’ll make the rest of their lives.”
Sheffield has some ideas for parents and teachers to help children develop their math ability; she’ll present them at 6 p.m. Thursday at Ashland Community and Technical College’s Teleconference Room at the Ashland campus.
“Mentoring Creative Mathematical Minds” will examine how critical math is and the kinds of questions parents can ask their children, Sheffield said.
“We’ll be looking at how math can be fun and some activities parents and teachers can use,” she said.
For educators in attendance, Sheffield will examine the degree of international competition in math education, particularly in Asian countries where math performance surpasses that in the United States and she’ll look at how those results can be achieved here.
Contrary to common belief, the human brain is naturally suited to understand math, Sheffield said. “The brain is much more set up for math than for reading.”
Russell High School physics students will join Sheffield to explain the role math plays in a class project.
The presentation is co-sponsored by ACTC’s Professional Development Committee and the Northeastern Chapter of the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education, and is free to teachers, parents, education students and others.
“It’s important for kids to see for themselves how useful math is and how much fun it can be,” said NEKAGE President Brenda Martin.
“Math is a mystery waiting to be solved, a tool to sharpen us and a treasure that’s most valuable when it’s shared,” she said.
NEKAGE was interested in Sheffield’s presentation because the association wants to see the discipline supported with the same enthusiasm as football games, Martin said.
The association’s goal is to expose the community to the needs of gifted students and to help them get the support they need, she said.
Membership in the association isn’t limited to the parents of students in gifted education programs at school, she said.
Gifted education sometimes receives lackluster support because of the perception that talented children don’t need support, Martin said.
In reality, gifted children often underachieve and suffer more than their share of problems in school and are prone to dropping out, she said.
For more information, call Martin at (606) 571-0917 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2652.
11/15/08 Our NEKAGE president, Brenda Martin, attended a Kentucky PTA Board meeting in Frankfort, where they voted to have requesting Kentucky legislators for more funding for gifted and special education added to their "Priority List". (Rose Babiak is state president. Sandy Rutledge is state president-elect and has spoken at our NEKAGE meeting on Parent Involvement. Link to their site below for more details.)
11/13/08 Dr. Julia Roberts will lead a five-year, $2 million grant to address the need for a steady supply of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students in Kentucky and the United States.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education is one of seven in the country awarded under the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act. Project GEMS (Gifted Education in Math and Science) will focus on creating opportunities to generate interest and develop talent in disciplines related to science and math and encourage careers in STEM disciplines. (From Center for Gifted Studies.) .
Do You Have A Gifted Child?
FORBES. Hana R. Alberts 01.23.08, 6:00 PM ET
On what point can all experts in gifted education agree? A gifted child can be talented across so many different areas that often you need to look hard to find him or her. But one thing is clear--each is a truly extraordinary individual.
But there's a scale that psychologists and schools can use to screen students for entrance into gifted programs. Called the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students, this tool lists dozens of characteristics of gifted children under categories that range from leadership and communication to math to art and music.
And, simplified, it can help every parent understand if they've produced a prodigy.
The scale is the product of Joseph S. Renzulli, a professor at the University of Connecticut, and a team of experts who have field-tested the system on K-12 students throughout the United States. Now the results are in.
Compared with their same-age peers, gifted children may have superior memories, a knack for creating original skits or the ability to concentrate intensely for long periods of time--to cite just a few characteristics of the children inventoried in the test. And though teachers and other educational professionals administer the scales, experts say that parents play a crucial role in the initial recognition of giftedness in their own children.
"Parents are a key, perhaps the key, in identifying gifted children," says Dr. James T. Webb, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children. "Their child is very curious, talks early and asks a lot of questions .... If they're into chess, that's all they want to do. If they have a tantrum, it's over-the-top. If they have an imaginary friend, they don't just have one or two. They have 10 or 11, and each has imaginary pets."Judy Galbraith, a specialist in guidance and counseling of the gifted, recalls a time when her second-grade student brought The Hobbit to class. "At first, I was a little skeptical that he was comprehending it," she says. "But then he started to talk about what was happening, and the characters." Gifted children can read for long periods of time, and they often seek out books or magazines that are above their age or grade level. According to Galbraith, who wrote a book called You Know Your Child Is Gifted When ... to help parents navigate the overwhelming amount of research in the field, these kids can tear through several books a week.
"Keep in mind there are different levels of giftedness," advises Dr. Edward R. Amend, a clinical psychologist who co-authored A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children. Amend works with a preteen who is taking a math class at a local university on topics more advanced than calculus. "That's an extreme level of giftedness. It's more normal to be one year, or two or three or four, ahead of kids in his or her class," he adds.
The issue becomes even more complex in light of research that indicates kids can be gifted and learning disabled at the same time, says Webb. "Once you get up into the gifted range, particularly as you get into the upper reaches of the gifted range, you find an increasing span of abilities," he says. "You may have a child who is 8 years old, a second grader, who is reading at a seventh-grade level, does math at a fifth-grade level, has visual/motor skills at a third-grade level and decision/judgment skills at a second- or third-grade level."
Renzulli, who is also director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, warns parents that there is no such thing as the perfect identification system. It's important to remember that a child can still be gifted if he or she possesses just some--not all--of the listed characteristics in the scales.
"As we do more research, the list keeps getting longer," says Amend. "We would not expect a kid to have all these characteristics, but we would expect them to have more than one or two. We always recommend assessment to try to figure out where the kid's strengths are and where the weaknesses are."
Sometimes, though, identifying giftedness is as simple as pairing observation with common sense. "The little boy who called the flowers in his garden bougainvillea," says Dr. Barbara Klein, an educational consultant in Los Angeles and author of Raising Gifted Kids: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Exceptional Child Thrive. "You don't have to give the Stanford Binet [intelligence test] to know that they are just very different children. Very special."
Taking note of these characteristics is only the first step for parents, who must also figure out how to cultivate the potential in their child.
"It's time to begin to look for more information," says the University of Connecticut's Dr. Robin Schader. "If your child has these characteristics, then the big question at the end of it is: What are you going to do with it? As a parent, it behooves you to be watching your child, to know your child really well and to do your reading."
Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (KAGE)
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
Parent Teacher Association (District - NEKY PTA)
Parent Teacher Association (Kentucky PTA)
Parent Teacher Association (National PTA)
Kentucky Department of Education
Kentucky Child Now - Advocacy Group
Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Blueprint for Children
Dr. Linda Sheffield, Northern Kentucky University
Western Kentucky Math Science Partnerships
Keep Kids Healthy
Arts Council of NEKY
Guardian Animal Hospital
United Communities to Advance our Neighborhoods, Inc. (UCAN)
NOTE: If your school has surf blockers preventing access to these links, use a proxy site. First, copy a site address listed above, then go to www.iamunblocked.com where you can paste the selected address and "browse" that site.