Sanger Community Science Workshop

Sanger Mural Group

Founded in 2011, the mission of SAM Academy is to help communities build leadership and capacity for success by supporting youth and their parents to become contributing members of society through STEM and the Arts. Core values are: Excellence in all; Supportive and healthy communities; Respect for diverse learners; Equity and social justice; Youth development through intergenerational mentoring; and innovation in technology.

The first of it’s kind in the rural San Joaquin Valley, the Sanger SAM Academy provides out-of-school and in-school programming to youth and families with a pedagogy based on inclusion, non-traditional learning environments, low-cost music lessons, and programs in science, art, engineering and technology. Each is customized to fit specific needs and interests of youth from early childhood to high school, and is delivered on-site or through a mobile science classroom that travels throughout the Valley.

Tinkering, tools, and technology are major themes throughout all SAM Academy programs, especially the SANGER COMMUNITY SCIENCE WORKSHOP, and includes coding, robotics, engineering, and computer science. The Sanger Community Science Workshop/Maker Space is a free drop-in program for kids and is designed to engage, build confidence, and support them to become self-identified scientific thinkers, doers, and makers. “Making” is an approach to science and engineering that engages learners with direct, hands-on interactions that sustain exploration of a particular science and engineering concept or phenomena. It is within walking distance of schools and residences and provides ample space for 60-80 students at a time. Bins and boxes of wood, plastics, cardboard, and a large variety of materials are available. Tools adorn the walls hanging on pegboard and are also stored in rolling tool chests. Scissors, pencils, pens, rulers, glues, and assorted paper are always available. The environment and culture of the workshop has become so motivating that children immerse themselves with a passion for learning with each new project, activity, or exhibit. Many have become regular participants and parents visit often to observe or even work alongside their children. It’s not uncommon for kids to resist leaving when it’s time to close.

Contact Dr. Jerry Valadez for more information.


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