posted May 25, 2010

CASA Summer Program to Focus on Science

 Activities on campus and visits to sites around the community this summer will help the elementary-age students of the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope College discover how science impacts their lives and improves their world - and along the way seek to inspire them to consider careers in science themselves.

CASA's six-week summer session, which begins Monday, June 21, will explore "Science Explosion: Our Future Comes to Life."  Approximately 100 students will participate in the program, which recently received $6,000 in grant support from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and $880 from the Holland Junior Welfare League.

CASA, a community organization housed at Hope, provides academic and cultural enrichment for at-risk first- through fifth-grade students. The program, which runs year-round, is intended to improve the students' academic performance by providing the tools they need to succeed in school.

Through this summer's program, CASA is hoping to help the students appreciate the range of opportunities available to them in science-related professions and to see how education can put those opportunities within reach.

"Today's young students must hit the ground running with a pool of skills, experiences and knowledge that allows them to enter the workforce," said Fonda Green, who is executive director of CASA.  "Knowing their options and plugging into emerging careers will be critical.  They will need encouragement to explore possibilities and dream about their futures."

The students will engage in field trips to the BPW's power plant in Holland, to learn about energy; to the OutdoorDiscoveryCenter, to learn about plants and animals; and to Tulip City Airport, to learn about aviation.  The Holland Police Department will demonstrate fingerprinting, polygraph testing and thermal imagers.  At the Holland Area Arts Council, the students will work on art projects in kinetics and motion.  Through the college's science camp program, the students will investigate topics including the laws of motion; circulation and blood types; DNA; classification of organisms; natural selection; and electromagnetism.

CASA's summer program will include a variety of activities in addition to the visits and explorations related to the science theme.  Also during the six weeks, the students will attend a production by Hope Summer Repertory Theatre; engage in a reading program through Herrick District Library; pursue service projects; and receive dental care through the "Miles of Smiles" program.  In addition, several of the students will participate in additional activities in the afternoon through the local Girl Scouts program.

CASA runs five classes, each led by a certified teacher and assistant four mornings a week during the summer session.  During the school year, the students meet after school twice per week in one-on-one sessions with volunteer tutors, most of whom are Hope students.

The academic-year and summer programs serve Holland and West Ottawa students.  A total of 150 elementary-age students participated in CASA during the 2009-10 year.

CASA was established in 1987 by Marge Rivera Bermann and Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and originally housed at First United Methodist Church. CASA moved to Hope College in 1989, and has its offices and summer classes in newly renovated Graves Hall and its school-year activities in classrooms in Lubbers Hall.