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Local Foundation Builds Up a Full Head of STEAM

This past Saturday the Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) hosted its annual STEAM festival, an exciting and fun event celebrating science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Taking place in the Orange County Great Park, the five-hour event featured over 40 fun and engaging activities for kids and was sponsored by a wide array of organizations and educational groups from all around Irvine.

The STEAM Fest was designed to “spark student interest in STEAM-related fields and careers while uniting the community in support of action.” And, indeed, it was certainly a wonderful community-building experience, with hundreds coming out to enjoy the festivities. “We have had a blast today,” said one mom and festival-goer, “We came with a couple other families, and it’s been a wonderful way to spend our Saturday.”

Brittany Keene Photography

Participating vendors and sponsors ranged from nonprofit groups to schools to afterschool programs, and kids of all ages were able to participate in fun and games across genres from music, sports, computer coding and debate to fashion, astronomy, geology, and engineering. The event also featured its own eSports Zone, hosted by Kingston Technologies, where children could explore the world of competitive gaming. Guests also had the opportunity to experience performances by the IUSD Musical Theater, Ice Age Encounters, Discovery Cube and Jodaiko, the Japanese drumming ensemble of UCI.

The nonprofit IPSF was founded in 1996 with the focus on enriching education by “providing programs, raising funds and uniting the community in educational excellence.” Recently ranked the third best education foundation in the nation, the IPSF is a major contributor to the success of the Irvine’s public school system. What many in Irvine don’t realize, however, is that while the Irvine educational system is consistently one of the highest ranked school districts in the nation it is also one of the lowest funded school districts in the nation.

The IPSF is one of the primary reasons students in Irvine have so many opportunities available to them in their schools. Recent successes for the foundation include awarding more than $160,000 in grants to teachers for innovative teaching and counseling methods as part of their Innovative Grants Program and kicking off the third mission of the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program, IRVINE03, which was recently selected by NASA to participate in a future launch mission.

For more information on the Irvine Public Schools Foundation or to check out how to get involved with next year’s STEAM Fest or one of their other annual events, including their summer programs, check out ipsf.net.