Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — It's never too early to think about college.

3rd Grade KEY Student VisitA 3rd grade KEY student peers into a microscope.

Indiana University Kokomo recently gave third and fifth graders from Kokomo's Sycamore Elementary School a glimpse of college life, hosting them for a campus visit.

The students looked for microbes in pond water in a science lab, saw how nursing students learn skills in the nursing simulation lab, practiced their Spanish language skills with IU Kokomo students, and ate lunch from the campus' Cougar Country Café.

Gerry Stroman, executive director of the Office of the Chancellor, said the visit encourages the students to excel in school.

"Education is important, and we want them to know what college is about, so they are prepared to succeed," she said. "We want them to continue to be interested in education, and to get a good start in life."

Third-grader Macee Reckard, who plans to be a nurse, enjoyed the science labs, especially using microscopes. Caigen Malone and Jaylen Stroman, also third-graders, want to be NBA basketball stars, but both said they would go to college first.

Malone thought it was important for his class to visit campus "so we can learn what it's like to be in college, and we'll be ready when we're old enough."

Ella Biggs, a third-grader who wants to be a teacher, thought it was important to visit campus "so you know more about what you want to do when you grow up," and especially liked the science labs.

Third-grade teacher Jenny Shaw said the students, who are part of the KEY gifted and talented program, enjoy chances to learn through experience, rather than books. The hands-on lab work was just the kind of thing that appeals to them.

"This offers a great chance to get outside our school, and to do the kinds of things we can't do in our classrooms," she said. "This goes with what we've been learning in class, which is great."

Tashona Jones, diversity coordinator, said the visits also are a chance to show students the educational opportunities available to them at IU Kokomo.

"We're exposing them at a young age to what we can offer them here, and getting them excited about going to college when they are older," she said. "They need to think about what they want to do someday as early as possible, and start planning ahead to make that happen. We are happy to share our resources to help."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.