Children are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This year, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD), armed with two government grants, are going to help young learners find many answers to that one question by offering the Find Your Future Clubs where they can explore and expand their dreams.

Jennifer Collier, the district’s extended learning supervisor said the clubs are a way to prepare students for future careers by cultivating the skills they will need to succeed.

“The goal is to provide a wide variety of experience in multiple forms of learning expression,” Collier said. “Early and often, young learners need extensive exposure in the arts and computer science to mention only two areas. There is a demand for 21st century employees to have mastery in communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Learners need to ‘See it, to be it’. There are many job opportunities in media arts, especially in California’s entertainment industry.”

Collier said the district introduced the concept last school year.

“Last spring 2019, we had our first Find Your Future Club, including computer science and art,” Collier said. “The learners participated in a free program, CS First by Google. The CS First Program has themes. We used the storytelling theme. Learners also used the Makerspace at Valley Oaks Elementary and Lake Canyon Elementary to create physical art pieces to represent their story.”

Valley Oaks Principal David Nelson said the students loved the experience and look forward to this year’s club.

“It’s going to be very cool,” Nelson said. “Last year they got to experience coding. They presented what they created at a Google field trip where they toured the enormous campus. The best thing about it (is) kids are already exposed to technology. With the club, they discover more – take it to the next level and put it into practice.”

The Find Your Future Club will start at Lake Canyon Elementary, Marengo Ranch Elementary, McCaffrey Middle School, River Oaks Elementary, Valley Oaks Elementary and Vernon E. Greer Elementary.

UC Davis will also get involved offering Snap the Gap for girls 10 to 12 years old. Next spring, both boys and girls can participate in Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries.

Ideas for this club came from Kailah Ramos, a Galt Youth Commissioner.

“We were working on a Galt Youth Commission project; in this project, Kailah wanted to create learner engagement and participation in the Makerspace at Valley Oaks,” Collier said. “She wanted to see young learners having access to the Makerspace. In a partnership with the Bright Future Learning Centers, we built the Find Your Future Club. Valley Oaks and Lake Canyon had the most interest.”

According to the website, Makerspace is a constructivist and constructionist movement that is taking the world by storm. Imagine DIY meets education. Makerspace is not only a hack shop where you can go to learn how to use an arc welder for the afternoon, but an educational concept as well. A makerspace presents readily available materials that can act as a provocation for inquiry, as well as modern technology and items to invent with.

Collier said parents could also facilitate this creative learning approach at home.

“Parents can encourage their students by taking time to talk with them about their hopes, strengths and dreams,” Collier said. “Young learners are discovering and exploring the possibilities for their futures all the time. Many times, the career choices children choose change over time. Creating the habit of asking meaningful questions and having conversations around careers provides the opportunity to develop ideas, and understanding the ideas our children are dreaming about. This also helps us to support them by providing the best access and resources. We are committed to provide multiple ways to express and gather learning connected to personalized purpose.”