Though the school year has ended in Merced County, many learning opportunities are available for youngsters during the summer through partnerships with local youth programs.
A one-stop shop is the Boys & Girls Club on W. 15th St. in Merced. Open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., students can participate in a little of everything – from arts and crafts, sports and other recreation activities, to a game room, computer lab and educational lessons. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided. The program tries to cater to families with working parents, according to Tony Slaton, the Boys & Girls Club executive director.
This summer, the Boys & Girls Club brought back a partner program with California State University, Stanislaus, the Fun Brain Gain STEM Camp. The program focuses on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), targets student retention rates and follows a curriculum in line with grade-level state standards, organizers said.
“We want to address that summer learning loss,” Slaton said.
University students design themed lessons and activities each week, such as environmental science and the color spectrum, and encourage the elementary students to use critical thinking skills.
For example, last week when students studied environmental science, they simulated a tornado in a water bottle as well as an oil spill, said Shelly Chow, a 23-year-old biology student.
“They don’t know it yet, but we’re trying to get them to understand the scientific method and ask them critical thinking questions,” Chow said.
On Thursday, the younger students learned about tessellations, shapes used to make a pattern, and math terms related to symmetry.
Next week, students will learn about nutrition and the human body’s organ system.
The Boys & Girls Club is serving about 100 children this summer, but is seeking more participants, Slaton said.
Classes will be led by UC Merced students and focus on renewable energy subjects.
On Monday, students will get the chance to learn about the fundamentals of solar cells and tinker with kits to operate their own mini solar panel and engine. The class will begin at 2:30 p.m. for those who wish to participate at 640 T St. in Merced.
For a couple more weeks, Merced City School District also will offer its Summer Academy for Academic Achievement. The Summer Academy provides an opportunity for students to extend their learning in science, technology, engineering, the arts, mathematics and language arts. It includes hands-on projects and technology-based learning as well.
Reyes Elementary and Rivera Middle School will continue accepting students through Friday. Peterson Elementary will continue accepting students throughout the program, which ends July 8. The best way to enroll a student is to go to the appropriate school site in the morning.
Merced City School District also will offer free lunch to children ages 1-18 at multiple locations through July 29.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477