University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 4/1996
Young researchers thrive in college climate

     Math, science, computers and research tools are available to
all students at the University, whatever their ages. The New Arc
Academy, offered this summer by the UD College of Education,
allowed academically talented youngers entering grades 5, 6 and 7
to conduct their own research projects in a college atmosphere.
     The academy focused on a number of themes, including The
Incredible Machine: The Human Body (science) and Bringing Order
to a Chaotic World (math). The young scholars were able to choose
one field of study or mix the fields during the two-week camp,
held during July in the Willard Hall Education Building.
     Director Thomas Pledgie, an education associate at the
state's Department of Public Instruction in Dover, and other
academy staff, many of them UD alums, led the students on
explorations that included using the World Wide Web as well as
the resources of the Hugh M. Morris Library.
     "The kids physically went to the library to do research, and
they were fascinated by it. They went into the stacks; they used
the maps," Pledgie says. "They spent at least an hour each day at
the computer to enhance their skills."
     For the science project, the students used lab equipment and
PC-based computer simulations to explore the various aspects and
functions of the body. Comparisons were drawn to simple machines.
     The mathematics segment included developing skills to
collect, organize and analyze data into meaningful information
for decision-making. The topics varied from mapping, which
included access to electronic atlases and creation of simulated
cities, to the use of electronic spreadsheets for plotting the
growth and success of businesses they created. All of the
students prepared multimedia presentations of their research.
     The academy was born about four years ago when Pledgie met
with University President David P. Roselle and Frank B. Murray,
H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Educational Studies and then dean of
the College of Education. They wanted to find activities for
talented kids throughout the state, according to Pledgie, to
reach out to the younger set and bring them into the college
     "The New Arc Academy is founded on the principle that
students with outstanding talent don't just consume, but produce
and share knowledge," says Pledgie. "The students chose the name
as a spinoff of the original name for the city, New Ark, where
the campus is located."
     Pledgie plans the academy each year, selects the staff and
recruits the students. This year's staff included John Carlton,
Delaware '69, a science teacher at St. Mark's High School; Kathy
Melvin, Delaware '75, a teacher at Poly Tech in Dover; and
Theresa Grant, Delaware '96PhD, who just finished a degree in
mathematics education.
     In addition, each teacher had an undergraduate or graduate
student asistant, creating a ratio of approximately one teacher
and assistant for every 15 students. The Instructional Technology
Center at the College of Education provided computer assistance.
Up to 60 slots are available each year. Potential students must
submit an essay and a copy of their last report card along with
the application.
     Parents of potential candidates for next year can contact
Pledgie at (302) 831-8162.
                                                 -Gerry Elter