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Sally Ride Science Junior Academy Offers Summer STEAM Adventures


Over the course of four weeks, middle and high school students will spend part of the summer flying drones, hunting fossils or designing a website. The Sally Ride Science Junior Academy is now registering students for hands-on summer classes, including dozens of innovative and exciting new offerings.

The 2018 Junior Academy, from June 25 to July 20 at Mission Bay High School, will offer STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) classes for students entering grades 6 through 12. This summer’s academy features twice as many courses as in past years.

“We are so grateful to partner with the San Diego Unified School District at Mission Bay High School to deliver the best STEAM courses to students from all areas of San Diego,” said Dr. Ed Abeyta, associate dean for community engagement and director of pre-college and career preparation programs for UC San Diego Extension.

Most classes are one-week workshops of half-day sessions, and this summer there are new multi-week courses in which high school students can earn college prep credit. To accommodate working adults, parents will now have the option to enroll students in early drop-off and late pick-up.

The 2018 course lineup incorporates feedback from the Junior Academy’s first two summers, said Dr. Debi Kilb, a seismologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who is the science outreach director for Sally Ride Science.

“There was a high demand for tech classes last year, so this year we are including more options for tech classes” said Kilb. “New tech topics include DIY drones, 3D computer modeling and Arduino programming.”

Other new half-day courses cover a wide range of STEAM topics, including:

  • “Astrobiology”: Students in this 1-week course investigate the adaptations and behaviors of plants and animals to fit the particular environment in which they live. Students will participate in hands-on activities to learn survival techniques and camouflage to explore the fascinating characteristics plants and animals have evolved to survive.

  • “Living Structure: Walking Beasts”: In this 1-week course, students will explore how artistic creativity can drive scientific design by working together to build a fantastical contraption that walks on its own with no motor or batteries

  • “Stress Basics & Stress Busters”: This 2-week course explores how stress affects the body and introduces high school students to mindfulness techniques for managing stress and restoring health and balance.

  • “Introduction to Python Programming”: In this 4-week course, high school students will get an introduction to computer programming via the Python programming language. After gaining practical experience with basic coding concepts, students will develop a graphical arcade game.

Also offered will be popular workshops from past years, including “Introduction to Robotics, Space Out!”, “Messy Science” and “Culinary Chemistry.” Click here to see the full list of courses and to register.

Junior Academy instructors include graduate students from Scripps Oceanography, undergraduates from UC San Diego and local artists and science educators. In addition to teaching the material, the instructors serve as role models.

“When our students see the passion our instructors exhibit about learning new topics and the importance placed on not always having the right answer, but being willing to explore, they can envision themselves doing the same thing someday,” Kilb noted. “They say, ‘If she can do it, I can, too.’”

One of the instructors, Kristine Khieu, a senior bioengineering major at UC San Diego, aspires to become a physician for the space program. Khieu also serves as president of Tritons for Sally Ride Science, a campus club that supports Sally Ride Science programs. This summer, Khieu is teaching three middle school workshops – “Rocket Science”, “Mission to Mars: Scratch Programming” and “Gliders: Engineering Challenge.”

“These are classes I wish I could have taken when I was in middle school,” Khieu explained. “I have an interest in engineering, but I also have incredible enthusiasm for space sciences, and I’ve intertwined these interests into interactive classes.”

Each Junior Academy workshop enriches the science or technology topic by including an art component.
“Art is a great way to make science more interactive,” Khieu said. “Art can connect students with the topic in a different way than just pure science, allowing many of the students to feel more comfortable investigating the topic.”

Junior Academy courses are designed for middle school or high school students with a focus on encouraging girls and young women in STEAM fields, but all within the age group are welcome to attend.

Parents can enroll students in morning sessions, afternoon sessions or both. Different rates apply for courses that run for 1 week, 2 weeks or 4 weeks. Those who register by April 2 will receive a $25 discount on 1-week workshops. Participants can earn 6 units of college prep credit for the 4-week courses and 3 units for the 2-week course.

Scholarships will be available for San Diego Unified School District students who receive free or reduced-price lunches. Scholarship sponsors include the Hellman Foundation, Soroptimist International of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric and San Diego Unified.


About Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego: 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.