Every week the facilities of the Universidad Católica (PUC) Chemistry laboratory on the San Joaquín campus receives around 28 children per class anxious to learn and to understand the everyday phenomena that take place in the kitchens, such as why water boils, why milk foams over, or what the PH level of a food product is.
This course is one of the many that the Penta UC, the academic institution’s Talent Research and Development Center, carries out every year. Its director Violeta Arancibia affirms that is a curricular enrichment program to stimulate and develop the potential of academically gifted children and young people, using innovative methodologies that complement their school lessons. “If academic talent is not supported then it is lost, the same as with athletic or musical talent,” she comments.
Currently Penta UC offers a variety of courses and workshops that academics from the university offer, which students choose according to their preferences and where motivation and the deepening knowledge in different areas is of primordial importance.
Some of the courses during the first semester this year are: “No problem with math problems;” “Experimenting in my kitchen;” “Let’s discover the world of insects;” “Playing with programming” and “Centenary and bicentenary: Chileans in two celebrations.”
Another academic institution developing this type of initiative is the Universidad de Chileand its Science School, which last year presented an educational program to strengthen cognitive abilities and skills and procedures for all students interested in pursuing future university studies in health sciences.
Some of the skills that students acquire with the course are teamwork, responsibility, perseverance and problem-solving using the method of “learning by doing,” so as to develop the autonomy of each student.
Some of the courses that this school offers are: “Human beings and their surroundings,” “Matter, energy and life” and “Origin of the universe and life on earth” for elementary school level students, and “Human biology and ecosystems” and “From ancestors to descendants” at the high school level. It also offers a distance physics course over the Internet.
In the course “Matter, energy and life,” for example, elementary school students had the chance to engage in direct interaction with the animals at the Buin Zoo and to gain practical experience of the essential aspects of animal life that were studied in previous classes.