A program offering free Sally Ride Science STEAM workshops at San Diego library branches is gearing up to serve more students with an expanded course lineup covering everything from "Marine Mammals" and "Kitchen Chemistry" to "Wearable Electronics" and "The Science of Harry Potter."
Winter offerings for the Library NExT (Network of Education x Training) program, a partnership between the San Diego Public Library and UC San Diego, include more than 40 hands-on workshops at library branches around the city. The new schedule offers three times the courses as previously available.
The free STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops are held mostly on Saturdays and cover a wide range of subjects, including "Messy Science," "Tiny-House Architecture," "Robotics," "Video Game Design" and "Physics of Fidget Spinners." The workshops are geared toward middle and high school students and last between 3 and 4 hours.
The workshops have been a big success with students and parents, said Gina Bravo, program development coordinator for the San Diego Library.
"Everyone has enjoyed the programs and really been blown away with the level of content that we're able to provide, both in terms of the expert instructors and the educational quality of the in-depth, hands-on experience," Bravo said.
The courses are based on curriculum developed for the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, a summer STEAM program offering hands-on workshops. Many of the Library NExT instructors are scientists and graduate students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Others are UC San Diego undergraduates from Tritons for Sally Ride Science, a campus club that supports Sally Ride Science's programs.
"We are excited to incorporate our new UC San Diego undergraduate instructors to build our tech-class offerings, as these younger scientists can act as both instructors and role models," said Dr. Debi Kilb, a Scripps seismologist who is the science outreach director for Sally Ride Science.
Library NExT started in January 2017 as a pilot program offering workshops in five libraries. The program gradually expanded to include 10 library branches and a greater variety of courses. In the program's first year, it served more than 700 students.
Six libraries will host winter workshops, with more branches joining in when spring classes are announced. Bravo said that by the end of 2018, program organizers hope to have a total of 15 library branches taking part.
Dr. Ed Abeyta, associate dean for community engagement and director of pre-college and career preparation for UC San Diego Extension, said serving the communities is a key goal of the program.
"We are thrilled to continue our programming at additional library locations," he said. "This will enable us to deliver on our campus outreach to all areas of the city. This is very important to (UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla) and campus leadership."
In addition to STEAM workshops, the Library NExT program offers test preparation and college prep classes.
The winter Library NExT workshops will be held at the San Diego Central Library as well as branches in Linda Vista, Mira Mesa, Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos and Skyline Hills.
Bravo said the Library NExT program is part of the library's effort to remain relevant to its changing community. "The library is a very flexible cultural institution," she said. "We always strive to be the place for opportunity, discovery and inspiration."
See a full schedule of Library NExT workshops for January through March and register for classes at sallyridescience.ucsd.edu/next.
Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego is a nonprofit organization run by the University of California San Diego. It was founded as a company in 2001 by Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, along with Tam O’Shaughnessy, Karen Flammer, Terry McEntee and Alann Lopes to inspire young people in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and to promote STEM literacy. Sally Ride Science was relaunched at UC San Diego in 2015. It is based at UC San Diego Extension and its programs are coordinately jointly by UC San Diego Extension, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Super Computer Center.