University of Calgary

University School Week wows young students

UToday HomeJuly 3, 2012

Kids get up close and personal with LCR’s Afghan War Rug Collection.   Photo by Laura Willette.Kids get up close and personal with LCR’s Afghan War Rug Collection. Photo by Laura WillettePoking virtual ripples into a high-resolution touch-table fish pond, scratching out a tapeless mix on twinned digital turntables, and personally changing the weather over a revolving luminescent model of the Earth, an awestruck nine-year-old visiting the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) looked up at Leeanne Morrow and quietly said, “This isn’t a normal library, is it?”

Morrow, head of instruction and reference services for Libraries and Cultural Resources, recently coordinated unforgettable experiences at the TFDL for hundreds of pre-secondary students. She corroborates her young guest’s assessment, noting his levels of engagement and enthusiasm were common among enrollees in this year’s University School Week.

Since 1996, the university has participated in Campus Calgary/Open Minds, a curriculum-based program moving the classroom into the community. Each student group, Grades 2 through 12, spends an entire week at one of 13 diverse venues around the city, including the Aero Space Museum, the Fire Training Academy, Stampede Park and the Calgary Zoo.

This year, Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) numbered among several campus representatives participating in University School Week (USW). Within the TFDL alone, the variety of materials and expertise shared with tomorrow’s scholars ensured members of all 10 school groups received every opportunity to satisfy their developing intellectual curiosity.

They explored global connections through tactile interaction with the Afghan War Rug Collection; they expressed shared passions, creating poems together in a supportive environment; they assumed a publishing role, designing and marketing books on topics of their choice; they investigated Alberta’s past, present and future in a hands-on examination of aerial photographs; and they discussed the benefits of making healthy choices for a healthy future.

Many children in the USW program come from homes in which post-secondary education has not been modelled. Their immersion in the campus environment therefore plays a crucial role in both building confidence and encouraging future scholarly pursuits.

Weeklong exposure to LCR’s unique archives, priceless international collections, award-winning Press and leading-edge digital media commons clearly stimulated the young visitors’ natural attraction to discovery and collaboration. As Morrow sees it, “Libraries and Cultural Resources staff at the Taylor Family Digital Library redefine the concept of lifelong learning to include our earliest years, not merely those of our adulthood.”

Departments, faculties and other units interested in participating in the next University School Week are invited to visit the webpage or contact Continuing Education’s Lois Kokoski, the program director who administers USW on campus.