The Power of Science
The Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park is so much more than interactive exhibits and the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater that so many San Diegans visit on field trips. It is a countywide organization that engages with communities to achieve its mission of connecting everyone in San Diego to the power of science.
Key to this community focus is the intersection of relationships and the work the Fleet does in the community. “We think about the work and how we radiate out from Balboa Park,” Fleet community engagement manager Yanet Lopez shared with GB Magazine. “The relationships we are building facilitate the work. It is a dance. We sway and work in sync with the communities.”
To achieve and maintain this rhythm, the Fleet goes beyond bringing programs to communities. Instead, it listens to the communities so they can develop solutions together. This process of deep listening and collaboration ensures that the communities’ needs are met.
Mwenda Kudumu-Biggs, the Fleet’s new vice president of community service and engagement, says, “Unless we re-engage with communities traditionally left out of the voices of Western science, we will continue to have a skewed view of the world.”
The Fleet knows the value of a more balanced, more equitable, more accurate understanding of the world and importantly, how to get to that understanding – through the lens of science.
According to David Laurenvil, director of education and community partnerships at the Fleet, “Our goal as we engage with communities throughout San Diego is to connect them with experiences that amaze them. Those experiences lead to a desire and interest to wonder, think, understand and imagine the possibilities. The power of science is this ability to wonder and to imagine a future where they can understand, do and belong.”
With programming and events that aim to reach everyone in San Diego County, the Fleet is collaborating with communities to amplify all voices. A female or female-identifying student in the SciTech after-school programs or in Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering might become an astronaut or a pioneering chemical engineer in a few years. The family who attends the San Ysidro STEM Fair might discover opportunities in STEM they never knew existed. A sensory-friendly experience during one of the Fleet’s Accessibility Mornings might spark the curiosity of a future astrophysicist.
The result, Kudumu-Biggs adds, is a better, more harmonious world where STEM is for everyone, and everyone belongs. “We need to make sure we hear from everyone because that benefits the communities, science and our world.”
Learn more about this world of possibility at www.fleetscience.org.