Things got a bit messy at a STEAM event where kids previewed free Sally Ride Science workshops offered through the Library NExT program. But no worries – the mess was in the service of hands-on learning.

With San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer looking on, young guests tried out activities from some of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops, which are held at city library branches. At one table, students used a mushy mixture of clay and sand to model sustainable dwellings. At another table, kids dropped Pop Rocks candy into soda to create a fizzy reaction that inflated a balloon. Students also got a chance to explore coding and 3-D printing.

Mayor Faulconer watched students build house models from clay and sand.

The aim of the event on July 25 at Valencia Park/Malcolm X Library was to get out the word about the expansion of Library NExT – Network of Education x Training – a partnership between the San Diego Public Library and UC San Diego Extension Pre-College Programs.

Mayor Faulconer noted that Library NExT, which started in January 2017 as a small pilot program, will soon offer STEAM workshops for middle school and high school students in 15 libraries. “The goal is to grow this program to all 36 branch libraries,” he said.

Faulconer also announced a new Library NExT initiative called Program Your Future, which will allow high school students to take a series of classes to earn globally recognized UC San Diego Extension certificates in high-demand tech subjects.

“We are creating even more opportunities for young San Diegans to prepare for the high-tech jobs of the future,” Faulconer said. “And the best part is, these classes are completely free.”

Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, cofounded Sally Ride Science to inspire students, especially girls, in science and engineering. The Library NExT workshops are based partly on curriculum developed for Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, a summer program launched in 2016 after Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego.

Students tried out experiments from the Library NExT “Messy Science” workshop.

Joining Faulconer at the STEAM event were:

  • Misty Jones, director of the San Diego Public Library;
  • Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of UC San Diego Extension;
  • Ed Abeyta, Extension’s associate dean for community engagement and director of pre-college and career preparation programs; and
  • Jay Hill, CEO of the San Diego Public Library Foundation.

Walshok stressed the importance of promoting STEAM literacy for today’s teens. “No matter what you choose to be, you are going to need to be able to work with computers and with advanced technology,” she said.

Abeyta noted that the Library NExT offerings represent a continuation of Ride’s legacy. “Her passion was education for the next generation,” he said. “Her mantra was, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ ”

So far, more than 900 students have attended Library NExT classes. The free workshops cover subjects ranging from robotics and Python programming to the Science of Harry Potter and Physics of Fidget Spinners. The classes, usually from 3 to 4 hours long, are geared either to middle school or to high school students. See the summer schedule and register:

Ride joined with her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, and three friends to found Sally Ride Science in 2001. Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012. In 2015, Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego under the guidance of Extension. O’Shaughnessy serves as executive director of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego.

Watch a video about the event from the San Diego Mayor’s Office:

Library NExT Expansion

Library NExT continues to grow! This San Diego Central Library and UC San Diego Extension program prepares youth for high-tech jobs. Free classes will soon expand to 15 library locations and now HS students can earn college credit!

Posted by San Diego Mayor's Office on Wednesday, July 25, 2018