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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Western’s Grandparents U program introduces new classes

Students conducting an original experiment: Measuring effects of blue light on plankton swimming rates in a class last year.Photo courtesy of Mira Lutz.
Students conducting an original experiment: Measuring effects of blue light on plankton swimming rates in a class last year. // Photo courtesy of Mira Lutz.

Western’s Grandparents U will bring in new faces and new curriculum to this year’s intergenerational summer program. The two-day extended education program has been bringing grandparents and grandchildren together for nine years said Michele Anderson, program specialist of extended education at Western.

Grandparents U will take place July 21-22, and registration is currently open.

All four of the Bellingham classes have changed due to faculty scheduling conflicts said Anderson.

Instead of chemistry, bookbinding, learning about trees in the arboretum and creating artistic renditions of story books, Bellingham kids aged 7-14 and their grandparents will be covering new material according to a Western Youth Programs press release.

Anderson said spending time in a collegiate atmosphere at a young age is key for students to pursue a degree later in life.

“That service component I sort of define very broadly: service to my department, service to the university, and service to the community. And I think this is service to the community.”

Filip Jagodzinski, Computer Programming Professor

There are three main objectives for Grandparents U, Anderson said. “To be an intergenerational opportunity for grandparents and grand kids to do an activity together.”

The next is to introduce young children to college life, something she said does not begin until junior high or high school. Anderson said children should see early on that learning is fun and college is something in their sights.

“Grandparents U is a precious and valuable experience for kids and elders, two groups that do not traditionally get to experience marine education, especially in a university setting,” Mira Lutz, who teaches a course on Intertidal Life in Anacortes, said in an email.

The program is also beneficial for the older generation, Anderson said.

“I think it’s also reminding grandparents that learning is a lifetime thing. It doesn’t stop with your bachelor’s or graduate work. There are always new things to learn,” she said.

Cara Jaye, Professor of Art at Western, will be teaching a course this year called “Family Tree: Creating Personal Works of Art with Pattern, Color, and Collage.” According to the course description, grandparents will use old family photos and work alongside their grandchild to use techniques like zentangle, watercolor, portrait, line drawing and collage to create a one-of-a-kind family tree art piece.

During the program, participants have the option to stay on campus where they will stay in the residence hall, eat in the cafeteria and have the college experience. Anderson said this will build a level of comfort for the children so when they’re 18 and looking at colleges they will not feel  intimidated.

Anderson said the elementary students would ideally return to Western due to the fond memories they forge here.

Computer Programming Professor Filip Jagodzinski said it’s not only the participants who benefit from the program but, the professors as well.

“I think educators have several roles, especially at the university level,” said Jagodzinski.

Jagodzinski said educators have to teach courses, conduct research and  are required to engage in what is called service.

“That service component I sort of define very broadly: service to my department, service to the university, and service to the community. And I think this is service to the community,” he said.

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