STEAM Support During the Pandemic

Now that learning from home has become the norm for many students, we need all the help we can get. Here are some top STEAM resources available online and eventually onsite. 

 Science Venues

Learning about the universe, tinkering, watching sea life or enjoying other STEM activities is a great way for kids’ minds to grow. The Bay Area has tons of venues where families can do just that. Due to COVID-19, some of these venues may be temporarily closed, may have limited hours and events, and require visitors to adhere to health requirements. But some are offering fun and educational online activities. Check websites for details.

 Marin

Bay Area Discovery Museum – Geared for young kids ages 6 months to 10, this museum offers an art studio featuring paint, glitter sand, blubber and more. It also has a maker space with digital fabrication technology like 3D printing, laser cutters and vinyl cutters, exhibits on measurements, transportation and more. Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. 415-339-3900. bayareadiscoverymuseum.org.

Bay Model Visitor Center – The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers runs this center, which includes a working hydraulic model of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta system. Check website for hours. 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito. 415-332-3871. spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Bay-Model-Visitor-Center.

Marine Mammal Center – This nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals and offers educational programs for the public. Check website for hours. FREE. 2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito. 415-289-7325. marinemammalcenter.org.

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences – One of the largest natural history science museums in the world, this gem includes an aquarium, planetarium and a living roof. Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Drive. 415-379-8000. calacademy.org.

Children’s Creativity Museum – This museum promotes creativity, innovation and critical thinking through its animation studio, music studio, innovation lab, robot coding exhibit and more. It’s geared for kids ages 2-12. Check website for hours. 221 Fourth St. 415-820-3320. creativity.org.

Exploratorium – Founded in 1969, this center invites visitors to explore science, art and human perception. The museum’s mission is to help create a world where people think for themselves, confidently ask questions and question answers. Check website for hours. Pier 15, Embarcadero and Green Street. 415-528-4444. exploratorium.edu.

Peninsula

CuriOdyssey – This science and wildlife center focuses on California native animals including bobcats, river otters, raccoons and skunks. Among the exhibits is Backyard Science, which shows scientific phenomena that can be seen at home. 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo. 650-342-7755. curiodyssey.org.

Hiller Aviation Museum – This center is dedicated to the adventures and innovations of aviation pioneers. The museum covers more than 100 years of aviation history and offers hints of what may come in the future. There is also a flight simulation area, a drone plex, an invention zone, an imagination playground and more. 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos. 650-654-0200. hiller.org.

East Bay

Chabot Space and Science Center – Learn about the universe by checking out rotating exhibits, planetarium shows and visiting three telescopes. This is the largest public observatory in the nation. Check website for hours. 510-336-7300. chabotspace.org.

Lawrence Hall of Science – Ignite a love of science and math in your children by taking them to this center located in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. There are exhibits on earth and space, opportunities to learn about and see live animals including legless lizards, a DNA sculpture playground and more. Temporarily closed at least through June 2021. 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley. 510-642-5132. lawrencehallofscience.org.

Silicon Valley/ South Bay

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose – This center includes an art gallery featuring the work of people from many cultures, an art loft where children can create, an outdoor play space, a bubble blowing area, replicas of mammoth fossils, a kid-sized play grocery market, a theater, a water play area and more. Check website for more details. 180 Woz Way. 408-298-5437. cdm.org.

Computer History Museum – Discover why computing history really dates back 2,000 years, check out artifacts from the earliest computers in the 1940s and 1950s, learn about self-driving cars and try some coding. 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 650-810-1010. computerhistory.org.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bay Area – This ultimate indoor LEGO playground is scheduled to open in spring 2021 at Great Mall Milpitas. It will have 31,000-square-feet of educational and interactive attractions for ages 3-10 including themed build stations, master classes, a train ride, an earthquake table, a 4D cinema, a Miniland featuring landmarks in the Bay Are and more. 870 Great Mall Drive, Milpitas. bayarea.legolanddiscoverycenter.com.

The Tech Interactive – This interactive science and technology center offers a look into the inventiveness of Silicon Valley. There are exhibits on bio design, body metrics, cyber detectives, social robots and more. There are also drop-in activities and workshops. Check website for hours and admission. 201 S. Market St., San Jose. 408-294-8324. thetech.org.

Online Education Resources 

Online educational resources have become a necessity. But there are so many options it can be overwhelming. Here are some favorites in my family as well as few from parent friends.

BrainPOP – Offers activities for a variety of subjects including math, science, English and social studies. brainpop.com.

Daily Vroom – Available on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android, this free app for parent and caregivers of young children has learning activities and tips for different topics and situations. vroom.org.

Exploratorium – The Exploratorium in San Francisco has a website with a wealth of educational information including hands-on science activities, science storytimes, resources for teachers and parents and more. exploratorium.edu.

Highlights Kids – Find crafts and recipes, games, science, jokes and more. highlightskids.com.

Khan Academy – This non-profit offers free online help with K-12 math, grammar, science, history and more. khanacademy.org.

Mensa for Kids- Provides free educational games, activities, lesson plans and other resources for children. mensaforkids.org.

#MetKids – Kids can view art on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, watch videos and more. metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids.

National Geographic Kids – This website has everything from games to science experiments to information about natural science. kids.nationalgeographic.com.

Prodigy – Offers free math games that boost achievement for elementary students. prodigygame.com/main-en.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids – It features weather predictions, information about the Moon, free stories and activities, history highlights and more. almanac.com/kids.

Wide Open School – San Francisco-based Common Sense Media created this free platform, arranged by grade level, featuring online and offline content that covers academic subjects, emotional well-being, exercise, life skills, special needs and more for preschool-12 grades. wideopenschool.org.

Wonderopolis – Learn answers to tons of interesting questions and more. Kids can have their questions answered on “Wonders with Charlie” livestreams every Tuesday and Thursday. wonderopolis.org.

Techie Camps

If you’re looking for ways to develop your child’s interest in everything from artificial intelligence to robotics to virtual reality to coding, there are plenty of options. Some of these camps may be closed or currently have virtual options because of COVID-19.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Camp – At this camp for ages 13 to 18, campers get to create artificial intelligence projects. Past campers created an emotion detector and built a website from scratch. There are typically three-week sessions throughout summer. If the coronavirus forces cancellation, campers can get a refund or attend AI Camp online at a discount. Normally held at Stanford University. ai-camp.org.

Camp Edmo – It offers a variety of camps on maker and tech topics. Past themes have included YouTube Star 2.0, Geocache Dash and App Inventor. It has offered online options during COVID-19. campedmo.org.

Code for Fun – Coding for Minecraft, coding to fly drones, designing web pages and programming the Arduino board to run smart vehicles are among the classes hopes to offer for ages 10 to 15 at several Bay Area locations.  codeforfun.com.

Education Unlimited – At UC Berkeley and UCLA, Education Unlimited typically offers separate science camps for middle- and high-schoolers. Camps range from the artistic (web design, graphic design and video production) to the classic (astronomy and biology sub-fields) to the futuristic (programming and robotics). educationunlimited.com.

Camp Galileo – Galileo offers several science camps, including virtual reality. Online camps may be offered because of COVID-19. Most years, it also features many in-person camps for tweens and teens with quirky subjects like Chefology, Drone Innovators and Go Kart Builders at more than a dozen Bay Area locations. galileo-camps.com.

iDtech – During typical summers, iDtech offers some 20 STEM classes in day and overnight sessions at Stanford, Berkeley, St. Mary’s College in Moraga and seven other Bay Area campuses. idtech.com.

Techknowhow.com – At past camps, campers ages 11 to 16 have learned Python or Java coding as they created games and animations and operated robots. techknowhowkids.com

Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.