STEM 先驅 ～～南加青少年科學中心
STEM 數理科技這十年來成為熱門教學重點，但其實半世紀以來，在南加州有一個享譽盛名的非營利教學機構，從1962年創立開始，就致力為幼稚園到 8 年級學童提供 STEM 科普教育，它就是位於哈崗的 Youth Science Center （南加青少年科學中心）。
由一對熱心的華裔夫婦 Ron 和 Judy Chong 創辦，五十多年來一直是南加州社區科普教育的先鋒，連續多年選為傑出非營利機構，也是丫丫園地的好朋友（還記得在去年的親子童樂日也能見到 YSC 的生物攤位嗎？）今天，就讓我們一起認識它吧！
YSC 最早成立在 Fullerton 市，由多位家長發起成立，包括華裔夫婦 Ron Chong，經過數十年來的發展和推動，如今由 Ron Chong 出任 Chairman，還有多位社區領袖人物出任幹事和義工，為南加地區青少年提供課外科學知識普及活動，讓學生在體會科學奧秘，並進入大學科學專業深造。Youth Science Center 位於哈岡學區 Bixby 小學校區，房間擺放著各種實驗儀器、物理器材、生物標本、圖表，還有電腦等。
現在 YSC 主要提供數學和科學教育，每年約 3000名學生前來參加從認識生物到刑案現場調查等活動，並與南加多個學區有合作項目。YSC 每年的夏令營深受學生和家長歡迎，提供百餘項科學活動內容。資深哈崗地區幹事 Kim Bach 表示，YSC 為青少年未來進入科學領域打基礎。通過親身接觸 (hands-on) 各種實驗工具及小型生物活體、標本，引發他們對科學發生興趣，利用現有知識基礎經中心科學輔導老師引導規範。
上個月，丫丫園地出席了 Youth Science Center 周年大會，並與去年的青少年《科學與生活》作文比賽得獎者交談，更與會長 Ron Chong 和資深幹事 Kim Bach 了解 YSC 的宗旨和目標。
Elementary School Division – Ethan Mueller (Los Altos Elementary)
Middle School Division – Katie Auyeung (Oswalt Academy)
High School Division – Jessica Leung (Troy High School)
網站還有豐富的 STEM 科學知識連結和錄影，網站是：www.youthsciencecenter.org
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Extra-Curricular Programs In California Contribute To STEM Careers
Where can an inquisitive nine-year-old watch a robo-3D printer create a keychain of his own design, a squeamish 10-year-old learn the proper way of holding a tarantula spider or a group of eager six-year-olds launch SpaceX model rockets into the atmosphere? These astonishing, science-centric activities take place every day through Youth Science Center after-school programs, held within California’s public school system.
Science-Nerds in Training
The Youth Science Center (YSC) is a non-profit organization with a stated goal of improving science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education, for students in California. Operating since 1962, the small non-profit is manned primarily by a dedicated corp of teachers and parents who donate their time as volunteers. Founded in Fullerton, the group has recently found a new home at Bixby Elementary School in Long Beach, California. Believing in the transformative power of STEM education, YSC turns eye-rolling youngsters into awe-inspiring scientists, poised to change the world and their futures, one at a time.
“We work within the school system, providing after-school workshops and weekend classes to kids within a number of school districts, including the Hacienda Unified School District, Rowland Unified School District, Whittier City School District and Mountain View,” says Ron Chong, the organization’s chair. “We are funding dependent but do our best to work with as many kids as we can, both during the school year and the summer months, when kids tend to fall behind in their studies.”
The Power of STEM
Run by volunteers known as inquiry coaches, YSC works to expose young students to a wide range of science-centric genres, including physics and biology as well as engineering and math. The cutting-edge programs include Digital Star Lab, a planetarium which covers the entire solar system, comets, stars and constellations; and the Legendary Stories Workshop, which provides students an imagination forum within which to write their own, personalized “Legend in the Stars.” The Youth Science Center is open year-round to the public and includes a wide range of hands-on, learning-focused activities. Free of charge, the Center is geared toward family exploration and group visits for classrooms. A free and extensive library of science books is also available for parents, teachers and students to borrow and use.
YSC provides students with a unique opportunity to delve deep into science via hands-on techniques, able to fuel their curiosity and enhance their creative problem solving abilities. A strong focus on hi-tech learning is in keeping with college-level work, yet is geared toward the interests and abilities of elementary school kids. The result is an intoxicating mix of multi-dimensional problem solving and an increased joy of STEM-based learning that surprises educators, parents and most importantly, the students themselves.
Author: Corey Whelan