Kids’ University Inspires Campers to Pursue Big Dreams

Kids University at UT Dallas

More than 300 students participated in two sessions of Kids’ University this summer.

All eyes were on what looked like a dirty snowball in science class at Kids’ University at UT Dallas.

Instructor Marc Horn, from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, poured water on the 109 degrees below zero blob of dry ice and dirt to demonstrate a comet. Steam rose as the water warmed the mixture.

“Heat from the sun is warming this up,” he said to a round of ooohs and aaahs. “This is what we see in the sky when you see the trail of gas coming off the comet.”

The custom-made lesson from the Perot museum was one of many at Kids’ University, a four-day program designed to inspire children living in local homeless shelters to aim for college.

The University developed the day camp in partnership with Rainbow Days 20 years ago to provide education and support to children experiencing homelessness, which can put them at risk of falling behind in school. Rainbow Days is a Dallas nonprofit that offers a variety of services to provide children with skills to make healthy choices and stay drug-free. More than 300 students participated in two sessions of Kids’ University this summer.

Kids University at UT Dallas

Kids' University campers were encouraged to use their "telescopes" during a science class led by an instructor from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Classes at the day camp included math, science, engineering and computers, which were developed and taught by partners from the Perot museum, Home Depot, Frito-Lay and Cranium Kids and other agencies.

There were also volunteers from American Airlines and other partner agencies.

“Kids’ University at UT Dallas provides deserving children with a memorable experience of what their futures can be,” said Dr. George W. Fair, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, and professor and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

At the end of the week, students celebrated with a graduation ceremony. “Pomp and Circumstance” played as kids in caps and gowns lined up to walk across the stage at Hoblitzelle Hall to get their diplomas.

As each name was called, each student shook hands with officials and received a diploma.

The festivities ended with a speech by Nathan “Chip” Minton, who entertained the group with a number of feats of strength, including bending a frying pan and blowing up a hot water bottle until it burst.

“I have a very important question for each and every one of you,” Minton said. “How many of you guys have a dream or goal of what you want to be when you grow up?”

Everyone’s hands shot up in the air. Minton asked some of them what they wanted to be.

“A princess,” a little girl said.

“A police officer,” said a boy, who received a round of applause.

Another young girl impressed the crowd by saying, “I want to be a paleontologist.”

Minton encouraged students to “dream big.”

“Repeat after me: My dream matters,” Minton said. And the week of activities drew to a close as the children filled the auditorium with their mantra.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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