A free, three-month children’s science program will include classes and workshops at San Diego Public Library branches around the city.
“Spring into STEAM,” designed for youngsters 9 through 12 years old, features courses on entomology, beekeeping, solar energy, computer coding, geometry and circuitry. The program will also include a project in which residents are encouraged to collect and identify new species in the San Diego area.
“San Diego’s libraries are centers for learning, and we’re always looking to create more opportunities in our libraries to help our youth get ready for the jobs of tomorrow,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
“With Spring into STEAM, we’re giving schoolchildren hands-on training in science, technology, engineering, arts and math in the hopes of inspiring San Diego’s next generation of thinkers, innovators and makers,” Faulconer said. “The experiences they share through this program are like keys that open up worlds of opportunity.”
Librarians will teach some of the courses along with community partners like entomologist Bill Burkhardt, beekeeper and educator Hilary Kearney, computer science education company ThoughtSTEM, the All Girls STEM Society and The League of Extraordinary Scientists & Engineers, which connects local schools with professionals in science fields and classroom resources.
City officials hope to make Spring Into STEAM an annual event. In the species collection effort, the library will work with the International Barcode of Life project, which aims to identify all life on the planet.
Scientists use the data to study the diversity of species, monitor the health of our environment and the impacts of climate change.
All libraries will offer free LifeScanner bug collection kits. Genetic sequencing on the kits will be done by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics in Canada.
“This is the first time a citizen science survey of an entire city has been attempted on this scale,” said Shaun Briley, branch manager of the La Jolla/Riford Branch Library.
“With the ocean, desert and mountain habitats, San Diego is believed to be the most biodiverse region in the contiguous states and a hotspot for endangered species,” Briley said. “Invaluable information will be gathered for scientists while we also educate the public about our region’s environment.”
The LifeScanner bug collection kits will be available for patrons of all ages and will be returned to libraries for DNA barcoding. As part of the Catalog of Life project, a series of bio-literacy talks and workshops will be held at multiple San Diego Public Library locations.
Some of the Spring into STEAM programs require advance registration. A course schedule and other information is available at www.sandiego.gov/steam.
— City News Service