The winning combination of fun and learning was in full gear as 250 area middle school students experienced Moraine Park Technical College’s Tech Knowledge College (TKC) on Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus. Participants got a glimpse into college facilities and potential careers as they made movies, created dream homes, built robots, prepared gourmet dishes and perfected hair techniques.
Students from throughout Moraine Park’s district enjoyed hands-on learning as they participated in their 2 choices from among almost 20 different sessions. There was something for everyone, and participants left TKC with new skills in a variety of areas, from health care to culinary arts.
Moraine Park has been hosting TKC for over 20 years. Although sessions have changed to complement new and evolving technology, the purpose of the event has remained the same — to give students a chance to get a hands-on, interactive look at the skills and careers needed today and in the future.
Ashlin La Fond of West Bend took the two culinary arts sessions: Cupcakes for the Holidays and Good Eats. “It was so much fun,” La Fond said. “I liked that you had to follow recipes for both classes but still got to be creative and come up with new flavors and combinations.”
Chloe Blaine of Fond du Lac took Good Eats and the Art of Architecture. It was Blaine’s second year at TKC, and she is already looking forward to next year. Designing and planning a house on the computer was Blaine’s favorite part of the Art of Architecture session.
Zachary Schroeder of Ripon and Jonathan Prag of Grafton became fast friends in their Fix It, Tune It, Ride It session. They learned how to fix flat tires, fine-tune a bike and build a bicycle. On Schroeder and Prag’s last day, they got to apply what they learned on the road with a long bike ride.
Sevon Young of Beaver Dam is a TKC veteran and enjoyed his third and final year at the event. He has taken Good Eats all three years and picked up quite a few culinary skills from the sessions. Young also took the Build a Robot session this year where he and his classmates learned how to program robots through an obstacle course and got to take their robot creations home after the final session.
Stephanie Murre-Wolf’s 11-year-old son, Sam, participated in TKC this year. “‘It was awesome!’ was the answer I received each day when I picked Sam up and asked how his day was at TKC,” said Murre-Wolf. “Often, in the middle-school years, learning becomes less ‘fun’ and many kids begin to lose the joy in going to school. TKC counters this by offering fun programs that teach valuable skills in a friendly atmosphere.”
Murre-Wolf was impressed that through TKC, Moraine Park teaches something much more important than the skills developed in each class — a lifelong love of learning. “Further, the kids are seeing adults enrolled in college and are able to witness the value of higher education,” Murre-Wolf added.
“TKC is a wonderful way to expose middle-school students to technical careers at a critical age,” said Erin Wierenga, recruitment specialist at Moraine Park. “Many times, while visiting high schools during the school year; I’ll see former TKC students and hear about how much fun their time at Moraine Park was.”
Katie VandeSlunt, recruitment specialist at Moraine Park, has been involved with TKC for the past ten years. “It’s very rewarding to see these students receiving the exposure to career and technical education and their excitement about it. Even more fulfilling is to see how many students come back for the three years and then send younger siblings.”
VandeSlunt is involved with Moraine Park’s New Student Orientation events and has seen many familiar names from TKC. “What they’re learning at Moraine Park during TKC is resonating when they come back for their post-secondary education.”
This March, students who will be entering sixth through eighth grades in fall 2012 will be able to start signing up for their favorite sessions at the 22nd annual Tech Knowledge College. Check out morainepark.edu/tkc starting in March. For more information on Moraine Park programs, visit morainepark.edu/programs.