Full STE[+a]M Ahead: Track 2 Recap and Plans for the Future of Market Creek Plaza

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Full STE[+a]M Ahead Track 2 students. Photo credit: AjA Project

Over the last few weeks, we have been telling you all about the incredible work being done by the high school students enrolled in the Full STE[+A]M Ahead summer youth program.

The summer youth program aims to equip high school students with vital career skills and develop them as community leaders. We partnered with the Elementary Institute of Science, Project New Village, the AJA Project, the San Diego Futures Foundation, Groundwork, and UC San Diego to develop a curriculum, provide resources and guide students in activities related to STEAM subjects that directly contribute to their surrounding community.

You can read about all the interesting lessons Track 1 took part in during their first week, second week and final week. This track focused their lessons on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, incorporating the principles of those subjects through lessons on food justice, permaculture, water conservation, urban agriculture and photography.

Track 2 of Full STE[+a]M Ahead added the arts component to the curriculum. This is where the AjA Project came in to teach students about storytelling through film and digital photography, creative placemaking, and ways they can help positively change their community through the power of the arts. Throughout this process, students used their images to create a dialogue around their community, past and present, and the role that creative placemaking plays. The process of using the visual arts and STEAM principles to research, document, and discuss creative place-making in a digital world made a lasting impact on the students, who learned to see their neighborhood in a whole new way.

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Photo credit: AjA Project

Students worked with artist and muralist Victor Ochoa and AjA educators to create a special project that will beautify an important part of our community. Over the two week program, they used their creative juices to develop concepts that will eventually be turned into art that will replace the Community Faces murals in Market Creek Plaza, on the outside walls of Food 4 Less. Having Ochoa, who helped create the Community Faces project years ago, mentor the Track 2 students was a nice full circle for us at the Jacobs Center and for students.

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Victor Ochoa photographed by the Community Faces murals. Photo credit: AjA Project

The Community Faces murals celebrate community leaders in the Diamond Neighborhoods who have worked to make this community a better place. Now the next generation of aspiring community leaders will be featured along these walls through art they helped create. STE[+a]M students had the opportunity to make photographic art that celebrates the spirit of the Diamond Neighborhoods and features their faces.

On August 19, Track 2 students unveiled their art concepts at the 2nd Annual Full STE[+a]M Ahead Celebration Dinner. The concepts will be finalized and produced later this year and will be seen by thousands for years to come.

“We are so proud to see this program continue to grow and evolve,” said Reginald Jones, President and CEO of the Jacobs Center, “these students are the next generation of leaders who will advocate for Southeastern San Diego. With the skills they developed during the Full STE[+a]M Ahead program I know the future of our community is in good hands.”

The Jacobs Center serves as an incubator for ideas that help revitalize Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods. It works with community-based organizations to build their capacity and facilitate programs that improve the quality of life for local residents. The Full STE[+a]M Ahead program is one example of this work. Next year, the program will transition to EIS to with support from UCSD Extension. We look forward to seeing all the amazing things these students bring to the community in the future.

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