Kindergartners stump college professor

Kindergartners stump college professor

What started as a way to show young students how a college classroom feels has turned into priceless moments for a University of Wisconsin professor and the kids involved.

At the start of his Intro to American Government class, political science professor Ken Mayer braced himself as nearly two dozen kindergartners demanded answers to the toughest questions they could think of.

“Why do we have to go to bed at night,” asked one child.
“How does an iPhone work,” wondered another student.
“How did you make your skin,” piped another child.

Some questions adults have probably asked themselves.

“Why don’t the refs have the right camera angle on the other bad play against Duke?” asked a young boy. The room responded with laughter.

Mayer had some of the answers and kept his humor while the children fired away their questions.

Since 2003, Mayer has welcomed kindergartners from Glenn Stephens Elementary School to his American Government class for a chance to experience the university and see if they can stump him. Many times the students succeeded as they asked how far India is from Madison, how many alien planets exist and even who the next president will be.

After roughly 20 minutes in the room, the kindergartners were anxious to head to Memorial Union for ice cream, but not before thanking Mayer and asking him to be their teacher when it was time for them to go to college.

Outside the classroom, students happily chanted “We stumped the professor” down the hallway.

Mayer started the “Kindergartners in College” experience when his daughter Sydney was in kindergarten.

“I remember walking in and just thinking there were so many kids in the classroom., and I remember getting ice cream afterwards,” recalled Sydney, now 18.

But at the time she froze when it came to asking her tough question.

Now more than a decade later she had a second chance with a different set of questions about a movie they saw.

“Did you cry like baby,” Sydney asked her father.

To which Mayer admitted yes, he cried at the end of “Cinderella.”

This was the sixth time Mayer has held the “Kindergartners in College” experience.