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San Diego Public Libraries Launch Bug-Themed STEAM Program

Kids participate in a computer class at San Diego's Central Library in this undated photo.
Courtesy of City of San Diego
Kids participate in a computer class at San Diego's Central Library in this undated photo.

San Diego Public Libraries Launch Bug-Themed STEAM Program
San Diego Public Libraries Launch Bug-Themed STEAM Program GUESTS:Gina Bravo, librarian, San Diego Public Library Hilary Kearny, beekeeper and educator, Girl Next Door Honey

Science technology MBs as part of the unusual combination the kids will find in the program at San Diego public libraries. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer formally launched the program today say no 36 library branches in the city will be participating. It is called the spring into STEAM. That is for science technology engineering art and math. Is aimed at nine euros to 12-year-olds. Where to the peace, and you ask? You will still -- soon learned from my guests. We have a local beekeeper and educator and owner of girl next-door honey. She never usually think of libraries as places for literature and storytelling. How does this program attempt to engage kids in science technology engineering art and math? The hope is that this program will really prepare kids to engage with the concept that they are familiar with which is bugs and be able to connect that with some of the more complex concepts we are working with such as engineering and math ideas. What we are really aiming at is getting those kids to have experiences with hands-on learning concepts and really engaging with some materials that may not be available to all the kids in school so we are trying to expand that access to all of our kids across the city with these programs at every branch library. That is a good point because the spring into STEAM program is that all 36 branches. Usually different branches have different programs. Is this kind of joint programming something the library system has been hoping to do? It is and it is something to -- that we are hoping to do more. We hope to have this program available every year during the months of March April and May. You mentioned something not only is this program unusual it is sort of the first time so is the focus of this project. You are inviting kids to learn about all of these subjects through the study of insects. How does that work? We focus on different aspects of insects. There are really interesting ways that sex have figured out and translated into what humans use. For engineering concepts we wanted to work with the beekeeper because a lot of the patterns in the hive design are very efficient ways to use materials in a minimal way but still provide a really strong structure. So looking at something like a cross-section of something that was treaty printed you will see the same honeycomb structure and that item so we are working with concepts from what animals create and also how bugs are designed their exoskeletons are really interesting and artistic so that will be the geometric focus in the math component. Said breaking down the aspects of insects into these different subjects of science technology engineering and math. Gene reference the engineering aspects of these and you will be teaching one of the programs Hillary. How will you be is impious. These basically are engineers. Humans copy their honeycomb structure all the time in architecture and it it is because it is one of the most efficient and strong structures that also filled cooperatively so they make these chains with their bodies that's called for student and they hang in these actual chains what they are using that as a scaffolding and also to measure. There's a really intricate stuff going on inside the -itis the music posters and I have a few interactive games that I mix and but at the end with a kind of a mixed game or the kids get these roles with these have an the act them out. The one thing we do is we have been fun a chain with the bodies and pretend like they're building is comes. I like to engage the kids physically because I know children spend a lot of time sitting down in school so we are engaging them through play and through this physical and to the and then I think that helps them remember things and learn things better. How the kids react to Bee's ? They are excited and it may also contain but in the and they are just ecstatic. I've had some the parents and teachers told me that the kids would not stop talking about these Tran tens after being in one of my classes. Part of it is that they are so interesting I think that when people initially contact me to teach the classroom or school group to have some doubt about how long I can hold the kids attention because kids are notorious for that but I go from I hour and a half these kids because the subject matter is so engaging and there are so many different ways to talk about it. There are so many different things that come out of the use -- Bee's that he can talk about it and that's what this is about is engage in the kids with something fun and interesting that they can connect to and try not the speaker subjects. Yes because Bees are one of the only insects involved in this. In fact this introduction to STEAM subjects. Kids can ask for a free insect collection kit at libraries starting today and then they can participate something in that international barcode of life project. What is that The citizen science project we are doing is available to people who attend the programs are people who just want to come in and check out a kid. They will be able to check out a kit for three weeks and, in the neighborhoods and collect specimens of hugs. The idea behind that is that San Diego is one of the most bio diverse regions of the country but only one fifth of the species on earth have been catalogued so we are contributing to the effort to really know what we have on the planet. Part of this is the partnership with the international barcode of life and since we are is library we are going to create a catalog of life of all the species in San Diego. When we return them to the library the kids will be -- the kit will be DNA barcoded and the patrons will be notified about what species they may have recovered. This introduction to STEAM subjects may have a far-reaching impact on these children. It may even create some future scientists. Is not the hope? It is. We really want kids to engage with his concepts with the hands-on opportunities we are trying to provide by partnering with experts from the local community here. And really make these concepts engaging for kids and build skills for their future. If you are not exposed to science and if you are not exposed to the be culture or one of the other wonders that these children are going to see in this program you do not know what is out there. I am a San Diego native and when I was a kid I feel like I was part of the group that was overlooked as a potential scientist. I think I was messed. And that was because I was very artsy and I was not terribly good at math so science was so geared toward math when I was in school that I felt that it was not for me. As I got older and I got into college and I got into beekeeping I found a connection there through the biology of the bees that really drew me to science and I'm thinking about going back to school to get a degree in science because it is so interesting to me and I think this is such a great opportunity to reach a different segment of kids who are maybe not being reached through their schools and more traditional sense. This is a nontraditional way to reach them and get them interested in science. What we are talking about is the spring into steam -- STEAM program that begins today at San Diego public libraries and runs through May. I have been speaking with Gina from the San Diego public library and Hillary a local beekeeper and owner of girl next-door honey. Thank you both very much. Thank you.

San Diego public libraries are aiming to make science, technology, engineering, art and math concepts more accessible and engaging by focusing on something that gets the attention of most kids — bugs.

The libraries "Spring into STEAM" program, aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, begins Thursday at the city's 36 branch libraries and runs through May.


Through the program kids will learn about bugs with a local entomologist, basic computer programming, engineering concepts by studying bees, spacial geometry through origami bugs and more. The full schedule can be found on the city's website.

Through the program, kids can also check out bug collection kits at San Diego public libraries. The collected bugs will be identified by their DNA and entered into a catalog of local bugs.

"San Diego is one of the most biodiverse regions in the country, however only one-fifth of the species on earth have been cataloged, so we are contributing to this effort to really know what we have on the planet," said Gina Bravo, a librarian at the San Diego Public Library.

Bravo and Hilary Kearny, a beekeeper who will be teaching engineering concepts through the study of bees, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to talk about the program.