Marsh Hall at Pacific University. Photo courtesy of Pacific University

FOREST GROVE - Saturday Academy, a Portland-based supplemental science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program formed in 1983 that’s aimed at students in grades 2-12, is holding classes for the first time at Forest Grove’s Pacific University this summer.

The nonprofit also aims to reach new students in Banks.

The majority of the hands-on-teaching style classes already started, but this summer students still can sign up to attend a class at Pacific University -- Club Med West: Medical Careers. (For the record, Saturday Academy offers supplemental courses throughout the year, and on major school recesses, such as spring break.)

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In the class Club Med West: Medical Careers, students are offered the opportunity to investigate careers in the medical field. The class runs from Monday, July 29 to Friday, Aug. 2, and is intended for high school-aged students -- those in grades 9-12. 

Other Saturday Academy classes taking place this summer at Pacific University include digital video making, introduction to astronomy, and Tinkerlab, the latter of which allows students to exercise his or her creativity using a wide range of tools that include a 3D printer, CNC router, computer-aided design (CAD), fabric dying, electronic circuit design, weaving, and more, Saturday Academy spokesperson Ali Gonzales said. 

Dr. Andrew Dawes, an associate professor of physics who also teaches optometry, vision science, and applied science at Pacific University, leads the Tinkerlab classes. Dawes said the Saturday Academy experience stands out from other supplemental educational opportunities because it combines informal science education, 21st-century skills, and creative expression.

“Most traditional school experiences have a single -- or perhaps a few -- target lessons,” Dawes said. “Our aim with (Saturday Academy and Tinkerlab) is to show how many topics are all intertwined -- science, art, math, etc. Learning about these connections and how technology can improve art, and how art can improve technology, is especially important for the future.”   

Enrollment, attendance, and tuition

“Saturday Academy is driven by a commitment to engage all children, including those from underrepresented communities, connecting them with expert instructors and mentors in authentic, professional settings,” Gonzales said via email. “(Saturday Academy) serves (more than) 6,000 students annually (and its) programs are designed to spark curiosity and cultivate an intrinsic, sustained love of learning.”

According to Saturday Academy, 2,841 students enrolled in 2018 classes and camps, which included 1,088 first-time students, Gonzales said. 

During summer 2019, the nonprofit says it offered more than 300 classes and camps across the Portland metro-region at various locations, which can be found online here.

For families worried about the cost of tuition, Saturday Academy offers good news alternatives.  

“Saturday Academy believes that every child deserves the opportunity to follow their curiosity,” Gonzales said. “Financial aid provided by the organization’s donors is one way to make that possible.”

For detailed information about financial aid, and to learn more about Saturday Academy classes, its mission, and history, go online to www.saturdayacademy.org/aid.