Students at Sally Ride Science Junior Academy have wrapped up a busy summer of programming robots, designing ecofriendly houses, exploring distant planets and more. And 2019 promises to be another summer of inspiring STEAM adventures.

During the 2018 Junior Academy, held from June 25 to July 20 at Mission Bay High School, nearly 350 middle school and high school students took part in dozens of innovative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops. Many students attended multiple classes, bringing the total number of enrollments to 692.

“We had a very successful summer at Junior Academy this year,” said Megan Lancaster, program manager for UC San Diego Extension’s Pre-College and Career Preparation Programs. “Student excitement over the many courses and subjects was contagious. It was inspiring to watch them take control of their education and be exposed to new topics and opportunities.”

Planning has already begun for next summer, Lancaster added. The 2019 Junior Academy, also to be held at Mission Bay High, will begin June 24 and end July 19. Registration is expected to begin in January.

Like this year’s program, the 2019 academy will offer four one-week sessions of half-day workshops for middle and high school levels. The morning session will run from 9 am to noon, followed by a half-hour lunch break. The afternoon session will be from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

As in 2018, there will also be 2-week and 4-week half-day courses that will allow high school students to earn college prep credits. And for the first time, there are plans for 4-week full-day courses where high schoolers will be able to earn 3 transferable college units.

Sally Ride Science, cofounded by America’s first women in space to promote diversity in science education, became part of UC San Diego in 2015 and launched the Junior Academy in 2016. Sally Ride Science has a focus on encouraging girls in STEAM fields, but both girls and boys are welcome at the academy.

This summer’s offerings included new classes such as Astrobiology, DIY Drones and Python Programming. Students could also choose popular workshops returning from past academies, including Introduction to Robotics, Messy Science and Culinary Chemistry.

Many of the 2018 students received scholarship assistance. Scholarship sponsors included the Hellman Foundation, Soroptimist International of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric and San Diego Unified School District.

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

The Junior Academy carries on Ride’s legacy as a champion of science education. In 2001, Ride joined with her life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, and three friends to found Sally Ride Science. Their goal was to inspire students from all backgrounds to study science and to consider careers in science and engineering. Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.

Since joining UC San Diego, Sally Ride Science has been based at UC San Diego Extension. O’Shaughnessy is executive director of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego.