City of San Diego and Sally Ride Science Expand Free STEAM Workshops

By Margaret King

A program offering free Sally Ride Science STEAM workshops at San Diego library branches will expand to new communities so it can serve more of the city’s students, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced.

The program, Library NExT, is a partnership between the San Diego Public Library and UC San Diego. A pilot program starting in January offered workshops in five libraries. The program will expand to include at least five more branches by the end of 2017.

“Every child in San Diego deserves a chance to go to college and get that great job,” Faulconer said. “This program gives students across our city the opportunity to learn valuable skills that can propel them into rewarding careers.”

The workshops are based on curriculum developed for the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, a summer STEAM program launched in 2016 after Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.) Topics of the NExT workshops include Messy Science, Introduction to Virtual Reality and Introduction to Python.

Joining Faulconer for the announcement were UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla; Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs at UC San Diego and dean of UC San Diego Extension; and Misty Jones, director of the San Diego Public Library.

“Education and workforce training like this program are critical to creating an inclusive economy,” Walshok said.

Jones added, “We’re receiving an overwhelming response to every STEAM and STEM program offered at the San Diego Public Library, so I’m thrilled to expand our partnership with UC San Diego Extension.”

The partnership between the library and UC San Diego also will provide test preparation and college counseling for students and their families with a focus on underserved communities. Courses and specialized certificates will be offered for in-demand skills such as computer programming and data analytics.

After the announcement July 11 at Malcolm X Library in Valencia Park, the mayor and other dignitaries joined students in a hands-on experiment where they inflated balloons with carbon dioxide from soft drinks.

Library NExT classes are usually held on Saturdays. In the pilot program, about 150 middle school and high school students attended workshops at the San Diego Central Library, Mira Mesa Library, Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa Library, Tierrasanta Library and Malcolm X Library. Now the program will expand to branches in City Heights, Linda Vista, Logan Heights, Rancho Peñasquitos and Skyline Hills.

Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, joined with four friends to found Sally Ride Science in 2001. Their goal was to inspire students, especially girls, to study science and to consider careers in science and engineering. In 2015, Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego. Sally Ride Science is based at UC San Diego Extension, and its programs are coordinated jointly by Extension, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

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