Over the course of three weeks, Sally Ride Science at University of California San Diego has educated more than 400 students in science, technology, engineering, art and math, also known as STEAM, through a variety of hands-on workshops in such topics as the science of earthquakes, space exploration, oceanography, robotics, 3-D modeling, virtual reality and more.
The Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, which ran through July 29, was launched this summer as part of a partnership between UC San Diego and Sally Ride Science, an education company that Ride, the first American woman in space, her long-time partner Tam O’Shaughnessy and Karen Flammer co-founded with two friends in 2001. Ride and the other founders were committed to expanding educational opportunities in the sciences, especially for girls and young women. The goal of the new partnership is to continue and expand that important mission.
UC San Diego Extension, the San Diego Super Computer Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography worked together to develop the curriculum for the Junior Academy and the workshops that were taught by top-notch STEAM instructors, many of whom are scientists at Scripps.
To ensure that a wide range of students could take part in the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, San Diego Unified School District worked with UC San Diego Extension to offer 150 scholarships to its students in 6th through 12th grades, with a special focus on girls and young women.
Cindy Marten, superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, said Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego is helping to begin to close the gender gap in science and technology careers – something that is vitally important to ensure economic opportunity and regional prosperity.
“Half of the jobs today in our society require some type of technical background,” Marten said. “In the next decade, it is predicted that number could climb to 75 percent. We’re not going to be able to fill those jobs unless we start attracting more and different students to those fields. Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego Junior Academy is helping to inspire the next generation of innovators.”
The Junior Academy summer workshops included a variety of STEAM courses and allowed students to immerse themselves in hands-on projects, assuming the roles of a geophysicist, ocean engineer, and computer scientist and beyond. The workshops also incorporated real-life stories from the instructors who are conducting research in a variety of scientific fields to help inspire students to pursue careers in STEAM fields.
Karen Flammer, co-founder of Sally Ride Science and its current director of education, said the hands-on nature of the workshops was designed to engage students in these fields and encourage creativity and curiosity.
“This program is about more than technical know-how. It is about sparking an interest and then showing these students the path forward,” Flammer said. “In this economy, technical know-how is not enough. You need creativity to innovate and that’s why it is so important that we incorporate arts with science technology, engineering and math.”
Ed Abeyta, assistant dean of community engagement and pre-college programs for UC San Diego Extension, said the goal is to expand and grow the Junior Academy next summer and also explore offering a variety of out-of-school programs, including fall, winter and spring break camp options.
“This summer we’ve seen the interest and demand is there for this type of STEAM programming,” Abeyta said. “It’s clear we need to provide even more opportunities for students throughout our region to access this best-in-class STEAM education.”
For more information about Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, visit sallyridescience.ucsd.com.