_MG_6614This summer’s Full STE[+a]M Ahead youth program drew to a close last week with a celebratory dinner. At the event, the #fullsteam15 Track 1 students presented their final projects to the hundreds of family members, friends and community members that came out to support these incredible students.

The five student groups worked for three weeks on projects that incorporated the lessons they learned throughout the program. Attendees were then able to vote on their favorite project, with the team that earned the most votes winning $100 Best Buy gift cards for each member. Here’s each project from the Full STE[+a]M teams.

Team 1: Composting

The Composting team’s project created a sustainable composting center that provides healthy soil for growing fruits, herbs, and vegetables. It is their overall mission to have community members take part in the running of the compost center by treating it similar to a recycling center. Their compostable materials could be converted into rich soil, enabling healthier growing in their home and community gardens.

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Team 2: Water Conservation

The Water Conservation team created a project that could be very helpful to the community and city as a whole considering California’s current drought. They created plans for an aquaponics vertical garden waterfall, where they could keep fish for sale and consumption. Proceeds would help maintain the waterfall.

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Team 3: Water Conservation 2

The second team to work on a water conservation project created a rooftop garden at a local school. With this project, they felt they could provide the school’s cafeteria with organic fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the grounds.

Team 4: Food Production

This team focused their project on creating a garden that grows organic food crops, which is much-needed in food swamps. Their garden would be located in the Diamond Neighborhoods and use no pesticides. The team designed their large community garden, incorporating trees and planting beds into their garden. With this garden, the team felt they could help the community and challenge obesity in America.

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 Team 5: Permaculture

The team designed a backyard permaculture system that reintroduced healthy nutrients and ecological harmony into a localized area. They had various elements, including a tree guild with fig trees and rosemary shrubs, a portable chicken coop to distribute waste, graywater for which to recycle sink and bath tub water, and shaded benches containing a compost worm bin underneath.

IMG_5731Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 4.35.14 PMWhile all the teams did an amazing job on their project, the team that received the most votes was the Composting team that created a recycling center for compost soil. Their happiness and excitement was evident when their name was announced. We were very happy for all of the students and applaud their hard work.

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As Track 1 presented their projects, Track 2 shared the work they did during their two-week program. As we mentioned in a previous post, Track 2 of Full STE[+a]M Ahead added the arts component to the curriculum. The AjA Project came in to teach students about storytelling through film and digital photography, creative placemaking, and ways they can help positively change their community through the power of the arts. Throughout this process, students used their images to create a dialogue around their community, past and present, and the role that creative placemaking plays. The process of using the visual arts and STEAM principles to research, document, and discuss creative place-making in a digital world made a lasting impact on the students, who learned to see their neighborhood in a whole new way.

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Unknown-4Through these lessons, students created public art concepts that may replace the Community Faces murals located on the outside walls of Food 4 Less in Market Creek Plaza. The pieces they created are beautiful and would be seen by thousands for years to come.

IMG_5774We thank all the students who participated in this year’s Full STE[+a]M Ahead summer youth program. Not only did the number of participants double from last year, we are absolutely thrilled to report that the program had a 100% retention rate. Not a single student dropped out of the program. Some even walked an hour to make it to their classes. We are so very proud of their commitment to their education.

IMG_5742We also have a special thanks to the educational partners who created an enriching experiencing for the student: Elementary Institute of Science (EIS), Project New Village, the AJA Project, the San Diego Futures Foundation, Groundwork, and UC San Diego Extension. Next year, EIS will take over Full STE[+a]M Ahead and continue to have UC San Diego’s continued support in this fantastic program. We are confident that they will take Full STE[+a]M  to even greater heights.