The Coast News Group is helpful for parents educating their children at home. Courtesy photo
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New STEM program has power to change the world virtually

As many children stay home to keep a safe, social distance from others during the pandemic, a group of scientists, educators and business entrepreneurs has come up with a way to bring higher levels of education right to the home.

For several years now, San Diego LabRats has been focused on filling gaps in K-12 education. The group brought their lab on wheels to schools, introducing children to various types of science equipment and experiences, and also provided after school spaces, weekend courses and other maker spaces for children to enhance their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning experience.

“Our goal was to open the minds of K-12 students to STEAM subjects and encourage them to consider careers in these fields,” said Jim Merrill, founder and president of the Encinitas Charities Consulting Group.

For the last several months, however, students have been kept out of schools and forced to continue their education remotely at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also prevented SD LabRats from continuing their in-person maker spaces and after school workshops.

Very recently, SD LabRats launched its very own virtual, web-based education program that students can access via their computer or television monitor right in the comfort of their homes. Called, the program takes the SD LabRats experience and delivers it virtually.

“We are assisting parents in fulfilling one of their most important and cherished roles — the education of their children,” Merrill said. “We are helping students get what they need to meet and beat the challenges of the future.”

The curriculum targets developmental age bands as directed by the Next Generation Science Standards, which set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. There are three curricula categorized by ages and developmental experience: New Explorers for grades K-2, Young Explorers for grades 3-5, and Explorers for grades 6-8.

Not only is helpful for parents educating their children but also for teachers who want to supplement their curricula with SD LabRats material. The basic membership package provides access to engaging science courses and labs. The schedule is flexible and the courses and labs can be repeated as often as desired to ensure retention of lessons.

Additional subscription packages aligned with national standards are available for families wanting more labs each month. With selective curriculum, soon to be offered for parents and students, ranging from family wellness to personal finance. subscription members also receive a monthly e-newsletter with scheduling information and other STEAM resources culled from the best education metrics in use around the globe.

SD LabRats also has its own scholarship program through that is completely funded by corporate donations, grants and donor gifts. For more than three years, the scholarship program has awarded 74% of all SD LabRats students with full scholarships.

According to Jason Merrill, another SD LabRats founder., “Families and Students having access to higher levels of education at their fingertips, we believe is the way of the future, is that future.”