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3D printing, ‘career visions’ courses highlight Sac State’s Summer Youth Academies

A 3D printing course that will utilize Sac State's new makerspace, seen above, and a program to help participants outline their personal and professional goals headline Sacramento State’s 2023 Summer Youth Academies for local middle and high school students. (Sacramento State file/Bibiana Ortiz)

A 3D printing course in the University Library’s new makerspace and a program to help participants outline their personal and professional goals headline Sacramento State’s 2023 summer enrichment programs for local middle and high school students.

Summer Youth Academies, which allow participants to explore potential careers and experience life at a college campus, kicks off June 20.

The series of weeklong “academies” – 12 for seventh- through 10th-graders and 13 for high schoolers – expose students to fields such as creative writing, forensics, coding, engineering, and teaching.

A 3D printer producing an object in the StingerStudio Makerspace.
In collaboration with the University Library, Sac State's College of Continuing Education added a 3D printing course for high school students to the 2023 Summer Youth Academies. (Sacramento State file/Bibiana Ortiz)

The goal is to provide students a place to explore their interests or try something new, said Anna Keck, interim director of Academic and Professional Programs with Sac State’s College of Continuing Education (CCE), which runs Summer Youth Academies.

"We don't have grades,” Keck said. “This is pretty low risk, gives them a safe space to explore a topic, maybe something they don't have available at their school or for whatever reason they don't feel comfortable engaging in at their school out of fear they’re not going to be successful.”

When the StingerStudio Makerspace opened in March, Keck and her colleagues knew it could be a good fit for Summer Youth Academies. Collaborating with the Library, CCE added a 3D printing course for high school students. Participants will design, print, and test a “stomp rocket” – a rocket that is launched by stomping on an attached air pump.

“That element, the hands-on exploration, is really at the heart of our Summer Youth Academies in general,” Keck said.

The Career Visions Academy, also for high schoolers, is a new type of course. Instead of focusing on a specific career field or skill, it will help students discover their core values, strengths, and interests, and develop a plan for assessing majors and career paths.

It’s an area Keck said was missing from the usual offerings.

“There might be kids out there who think, ‘I don’t know if I'm into welding, I don't know if I'm into data science, but I know what things bring me fulfillment,’” she said.

Summer Youth Academies is a new umbrella program formed from the merger of two longstanding Sac State summer offerings, Summer Academies for High School Students and Academic Talent Search, a program for younger students. In combining the programs, and removing the latter’s placement exams, CCE aims to make them more accessible.

Scholarships, funded through donations, are available, ensuring no student is kept from enrolling because of financial cost.

Accessibility plays a big role in the other aspect of Summer Youth Academies’ mission: helping more of the region’s young people see themselves as future college students. CCE conducts outreach across the Sacramento area, but especially at underrepresented schools, Keck said.

“Some students, there’s this perception that college is for the elite, that it’s not something they’re ever going to consider,” she said. “And so, two things are really important. One is getting them in that environment where they can see, ‘Oh my gosh, I'm actually really good at coding, and I never knew that, because I never really had the opportunity to work on this.’ And then the other is getting them on a college campus, or at least within the college setting.”

“That's huge for us, whether they go to Sac State or not. That's where our heart is, to get kids to see that they have opportunities for their future.”

For more information, visit the Summer Youth Academies website.

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About Jonathan Morales

Jonathan Morales joined the Sac State communications team in 2017 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at San Francisco State University and as a newspaper reporter and editor. He enjoys local beer, Bay Area sports teams, and spending time outdoors with his family and dog.

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