Finding STEM activities kids love is a favorite pastime of mine. In case you don’t know, STEM stands for the subjects science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This term is used when talking about education policy and curriculum choices in schools, The focus is to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. Sometimes an “A” for art is added, and that is called STEAM
One way to get kids excited about STEM activities by starting a STEM club. Unlike traditional science or math clubs, STEM clubs focus on giving students hands on experience with science, technology, engineering and math subjects and offer a wider range of STEM activities kids love and real-world experiences. They also provide another way of learning methods that can reach students, who might have a hard time subjects. Imagine trying to learn to swim by reading about it, or just jumping in and doing it.
Starting a STEM club can be a rewarding and valuable experience for parents and teachers, who often come together to start a new STEM club. Below are some tips, you may find useful.
1. Focus on just one STEM subject
Instead of trying to all STEM subjects, try do something more specific such as astronomy, the environment, or robotics. Having a clear idea to begin with will help you plan and help students get an understanding of what they will be doing.
2. Make sure activities are age appropriate for the students
What age range are the students? How many students will you be able to have in the club? Will the club meet after school or during lunch or recess? What sort of STEM activities will they enjoy? Some schools run STEM clubs by invite or application only, whereas others accommodate all students.
3. Be realistic
Teachers, parents and students are busy. It may take a while before your STEM club is doing all the things you would like, Don’t get discouraged. It’s better to start small and create a sustainable club than try too much and having the club be unsuccessful.
4. Long term projects or short activities
Some clubs have the students in projects that lead to participating in competitions. These projects require them to work in teams on a complex project for weeks, or months. Other STEM clubs, especially ones with younger members like to wow them with fun, one time activities. There are benefits and disadvantages to both. Long term projects develop teamwork, and give a sense of commitment. But, they can fall apart if students are unwilling or unable to commit or if the project doesn’t live up to what they had hoped for. Long term projects are better suited to older children. One time experiments and activities are great for younger students and can show them the fun side of STEM subjects. Be aware though, older, higher attaining students might get bored with weeks of disconnected, short activities.
5. Plan ahead for the upcoming school year
Get the word out early and spend a day or two in the summer term planning what you want to do in the club for the upcoming year. Be sure to include parents, teachers and students, especially if you’ve already started a club and want to make sure it continues.
6. Get Social
Get the word out! Find out if there is a board on Facebook for parents and teachers, and post it there. Also utilize print advertising in school posters, notices in registers, fliers etc., writing features in school newsletters, assemblies to update other students on the work of the club, stands at open houses for new club members and parents.
STEM / STEAM CLUB SUPPLIES
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Green Kid Crafts was started in 2009 by a working mom. With the vision of helping to raise the next generation of creative leaders, Green Kid Crafts strive to teach children to exercise creativity, develop a love of discovery, and learn about the world around them.
At Green Kid Crafts, STEAM subscriptions create those opportunities, and certainly spark the imagination! Their products deliver discovery, learning and fun to children ages 2-10+, and they’ve also built a wonderful community of parents, grandparents and educators that share their vision. Green Kids Crafts has built a business that we are incredibly proud of. Their program has won a variety of awards including Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products, Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Red Tricycle’s Award for Most Awesome Subscription Service and many more.
With PIPER, students build a computer and then learn about electronics with Raspberry Pi edition of Minecraft.
Piper believes that despite today kids growing up with smartphones, computers and gadgets that come in beautiful packages, they don’t get to tinker with them or get to understand how they work. They believe it is crucial for students to understand how technology works in order to find a place in our world and create the future. The students of today are making the tools that will inspire and empower future generations to build, explore and invent new technology, to help them invent the tools of tomorrow.
Groovy Lab in a Box, in partnership with Popular Mechanics, is offering a great opportunity to increase children’s exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) AND to raise money for their STEM organization.
Groovy Lab in a Box currently has 16 available boxes, each containing a project. Groovy Lab, like a lot of educators, focuses on project-based learning. It involves students participating in hands on projects that engage their hearts and minds, and provide real-world scenarios for learning.
With project-based learning, students remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with project-based learning are better able to apply what they know to new situations. Project-based learning provides an effective way to address standards, such as Common Core, which emphasizes real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of critical thinking, communication in a variety of media and collaboration. .
Boxes include lessons in circuit design, hydroponics, aerodynamics, wind energy investigations in sound, making a lantern out of ice; each box stimulates thinking, questioning, and inquiring children navigate through Scientific Inquiry and the Engineering Design Process. With Groovy Lab in a Box, each box is full of all the supplies needed to complete hands on activities, experiments, and design challenges outlined in custom, subject specific lab notebook.
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