The recipe goes like this: Take 3,000 bright kids bubbling with curiosity. Place them on Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus. Mix with talented local teachers enthusiastic about math and science. Top with all kinds of fun stuff to do.
It's a recipe for getting kids excited about learning, and if past success is any kind of an indicator — it works.
"The C-MITES program is all about hands-on learning," said Ann Lupkowski Shoplik, who founded the community outreach program in 1992. "Our kids don't sit in their seats passively listening to a lecture. The kids are down on the floor; they're playing games, doing experiments."
Open to students from kindergarten through ninth grade, C-MITES invites kids to solve murder mysteries; re-construct fossils; join the Space Shuttle and Mission Control to save islanders from a volcano and a hurricane; even recreate Harry Potter's magic in the laboratory.
Shoplik's vision for the program originated from her experiences as an elementary school student.
"I was bored out of my mind in school — studying material that I had learned years before," Shoplik said. "I knew there were kids out there like me who, if given the opportunity, could go much further toward developing their potential during those years."
Weekend and day-long classes are offered at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus during the spring and fall semesters, and at 22 locations across Pennsylvania during the summer. When invited, C-MITES will also bring classes to local schools.
Shoplik added, "Having access to a [school's] merry-go-round gives us a wonderful opportunity to teach the kids about the laws of physics in a captivating way."
Shoplik explained that C-MITES also educates the parents of these gifted students so that they can become advocates for their kids' needs.
C-MITES operates through Carnegie Mellon's Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach. Scholarships are also available to eligible children. Students interested in the summer program should work with their parents to apply today. The deadline is April 4, 2007.