Young Students Enjoy PacificQuest 2009

By Larry Pena on August 12, 2009

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A group of 30 young scholars got a head start on their college experience at Pacific Union College's PacificQuest 2009 on July 26 through 31. The annual program, aimed at exceptional 7th through 9th graders interested in planning for college early, exposes the students to a sampling of collegiate curricula.

This year's program, "Dimensions of Enlightenment," was directed by PUC professors Lindsay Petersen and Aimee Wyrick and offered a core class in "Experiencing Psychology" taught by professors Aubyn Fulton and Charlene Bainum. Topics for this session included social psychology, developmental psychology, memory, and personality. The students were encouraged to get involved with field research, such as staging small accidents at the campus market to gauge different levels of bystander apathy and observing the play behavior of small children at the preschool. "The students were a great group, very motivated," says Bainum. "They asked lots of questions and took initiative on their projects."

Students also had two electives to choose from. The first was an option in "Exploring Physics." In this elective, students took instruction from PUC physics professor Vola Andrianarijaona, especially focusing on the experiments and equations of Christian mathematician physicist James Clerk Maxwell and how the laws of nature reveal the nature of God.

Students who preferred to focus on humanities chose the elective "Enjoying French." In this option, they were exposed to a crash course on French language and culture, including art, philosophy, film, literature, and politics. One highlight was a sampling of French cuisine, including tastings and lessons in the making of crêpes and crême brulée.

Each day ended with a special event, including a presentation on cultural diversity, a quiz bowl, a talent show, and a luau and pool party. Students also were able to access the Young Observatory one evening for a chance at Howell Mountain's unobstructed view of the stars. On Friday, the final day, students presented reports that they had been working on throughout the week and received awards for the work they had done.

Petersen, who taught the French elective, believes the PacificQuest is a great way to both develop the talents of outstanding young scholars and inspire them to one day return to the college that gave them their first taste of college life. "This is one of the easiest groups that I've ever taught," he says. "The really good exposure to valuable academic activities means a lot to them, and they could handle all kinds of stuff with great aplomb and intelligence. What the students take away from this is that PUC has been a really positive experience. People are clamoring to be able to come back."