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It’s summertime, but that doesn’t mean vital education is taking a back seat for Diamond Neighborhood kids. With the Full STE[+a]M Ahead program kicking off last week, students from local schools have been engaged in interactive learning courses focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.The summer youth program is aimed at equipping high school students with the skills needed to compete in today’s in-demand career fields and develop them as community leaders. The Jacobs Center partners annually with the Elementary Institute of Science, Project New Village, the AJA Project, the San Diego Futures Foundation, Groundwork, and UC San Diego for this program. Together, we develop the curriculum, provide resources and guide students in activities related to science, urban gardening, food justice, and photography that directly contribute to their surrounding community.

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Week 1 is always filled with excitement as the young participants get to know one other and start getting their hands dirty – literally! To start them off, STEAM students visited Mt. Hope Garden, where they learned incredible lessons in food security, growing organic produce, and seeing how the food system works at the ground level. A few of the kids even made friends with some of the creatures that help make this garden a furtive agricultural environment.

The students also visited EarthLab at Groundwork, a UC San Diego community station where students in the San Diego Unified School District can learn about science and technology in an outdoor, interactive space. There, STEAM kids learned about the cycle of life of the earth’s pollutants. Have you ever wondered where your trash ends up and how it affects the globe as a whole?

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During this field trip, the kids learned first-hand the dire effects of pollution and now understand the impact made when human beings aren’t careful about how they treat waste. The environment needs protection, and we feel good knowing that these students will be the champions of the earth from here on out.

At EarthLab, students built a shelter using recycled materials, including discarded yogurt containers, PVC pipes, and pieces of plastic. Building these shelters with materials often thrown in the garbage gave the students an idea of how materials can be used in a responsible way. They also began work on a beautiful mural on a watershed located on the property. We look forward to seeing how that turns out!

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Students also worked on creating biomes, which are contained environments that have similar climate, plant life, and animals. The world is made up of various biomes. For this lesson, the students created small ones in old jelly and soy sauce jars. They were each given a live shrimp for their biomes, working to create an environment that can sustain the small creature and allow it to live. While not everyone’s biomes enabled a lasting life for the poor shrimps, the students were taught an important lesson in sustainability and environmental balance.

Week 1 was a great start! We can’t wait to see what comes in the next weeks! To follow along, make sure to follow @jacobscenteron Instagram or search #fullsteam15 for photos from our educators.