News - 07/9/2013

MiraCosta College Grant Enables Children to Explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers

STEM Camp 2013--SEC

MiraCosta College is attracting hundreds of low- and moderate-income youth interested in future careers in science, technology, engineering and math thanks in large part to a $30,000 grant from the Oceanside Charitable Foundation.

“We are providing them with a super high level of enrichment and we keep them engaged,” said Linda Kurokawa, Director of Community Services & Business Development at MiraCosta College.

Some 789 children had registered to take part in weeklong College for Kids STEM Camps at the San Elijo and Oceanside campuses by the time the summer programs began last year. Thanks to the Oceanside Charitable Foundation grant, that number jumped 16 percent by the same point this year to 932, and MiraCosta College hopes to have served about 1,200 youth by the time the six-week program ends. 

STEM Camp began June 24.

Because the program is sponsored by the Community Services Department, state law mandates that it be self-supporting. “In order to put on this level of enrichment, we had to charge a fee to cover the cost,” Kurokawa said. “But that was leaving some children behind because of financial hardship.”

So Kurokawa applied for and secured the grant that has enabled MiraCosta College to lower fees as much as 40 percent. Costs now range from $75 to $110. The grant also paid for additional materials, such as new microscopes and dissection kits.

Students from elementary through high school spend three hours in the morning or afternoon at the day camps that offer everything from courses in robotics and engineering to video game and computer design. MiraCosta students serve as camp counselors, providing the youth with role models who encourage them to earn a higher education.

In addition, “the children get to see what it feels like to be on a college campus. They become familiar with MiraCosta College,” Kurokawa said.

The day camps play a vital role for other reasons.

“It is well known that studies are finding American students rank significantly below those in other countries in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines,” states the grant proposal. “Our future depends on the education of our youth today and no community – Oceanside included – is unaffected by the decline in STEM education.”

MiraCosta College’s STEM Camp “will improve student performance in STEM course work as seen in improved letter grades at the secondary school level, increase the number of students taking STEM courses in those classes and increase student interest in STEM fields as potential careers.”

At STEM Camp, “students will encounter new worlds. When a child learns that every star in the night sky is another sun; when a young girl swells with accomplishment after solving a tough math problem; when a boy builds a model rocket and watches it soar; when an eager student peers through a microscope and discovers a whole new world, learning comes alive. It is experiences like these that comprise MiraCosta’s innovative STEM Camp and that will ignite students’ interest in STEM subjects and careers.” 

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