South San Francisco District Launches First Summer STEM Institute

The South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) is launching its first-ever Summer STEM Institute in an effort to prepare its students for professions in the 21st century.

"The students and families that depend on our local public schools know that STEM learning is no longer an elective," said District Board of Trustees President Patrick Lucy. "STEM learning is a critical and essential learning tool for every student to succeed in their education and any career path they choose."

The school district just south of San Francisco is focusing this first Summer Institute on students in grades 2-8 with hands-on activities and project-based learning. All of the lessons, activities, experiments and challenges are aligned with Next Generation Science and Common Core State Standards.

"This is an exciting learning opportunity for our students and professional development opportunity for our teachers," said SSFUSD Superintendent Shawnterra Moore. "Providing world-class enrichment experiences like this is a hallmark of the district's commitment to cultivating the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators."

The curriculum was developed in collaboration with OpTerra Energy Services, which has begun a new sustainability partnership with the district.

Students in grades 2-5 will participate for about four hours a day, four days a week, for four weeks. Activities will include building energy transformation machines, engineering solar ovens, designing and testing wind turbine blades and conducting classroom energy audits.

Older students will spend a few more hours each week during their four-week program. They will build Rube Goldberg machines, design circuit mazes and design, build and test energy-efficient homes.

The South San Francisco district has about 9,300 students and 40 teachers in 15 schools.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.