Kids Need Enrichment now has 15 interns!?! It all started with a couple of high school seniors interested in STEM-oriented volunteering who asked if they could work with us for their Senior Experience, our local high school’s “opportunity to design, propose, and carry out a project of their own choice on a topic of personal interest.” They had great ideas and we decided to channel them into several projects including 3 STEM Nights at local elementary schools and our upcoming KNE STEM Talk on Saturday 4/16.

As we started meeting, friends of theirs asked if they could join us and it just kept growing from there. I am thrilled that so many older students want to share their love for STEM with younger kids. Their efforts are a perfect example of meeting the KNE Challenge. They’re creating exciting, educational, community building events that will reach over 500 kids and their families.

The 15+ activities they’ve developed for the STEM Nights cover an array of topics and reflect their personal interests. Part of our planning process was to determine what activities made the most sense. They came up with a matrix to think about the cost of materials, space requirements, and the overall interactivity, safety, messiness, and turnover time. Some of their initial ideas were super cool, but they had to scrap them after examining them with their planning lens – burning “ghosts” to show convection (safety), flying a drone (cost), experimenting with liquid nitrogen (safety and cost). Some of the kids are using materials they already have like enormous bins of k’nex, robots, and other devices, while others have to source and price out supplies to make their inspiration come alive.

With the challenge to create STEM opportunities for others, they are delivering an incredible diversity of ideas and ingenuity. To recruit additional volunteers, they created a Facebook page and asked teachers to give volunteering credit to other students that help at our events. They are doing PR for these events with school flyers and articles for the KNE website and local newspapers. To help families take the learning beyond the STEM Night and facilitate others who want to organize an event, they are writing up their activities for the KNE website. Some of them are getting involved with creating the floor plans and organizing raffles. I’m not sure if they realized all of the details involved with these types of events, but my goal is to help them understand so they can use these skills for other projects, maybe even more STEM events!

This has been a learning process for me as well. Throughout this endeavor, I’ve modified and (hopefully) improved how I communicate goals, plans, and expectations. I also realized that in addition to building a passion for STEM, Kids Need Enrichment can help kids develop critical planning and communications skills. With that in mind, be on the lookout for upcoming posts about how to define success, how to set a goal, how to plan and execute a goal, and how to make a contribution!

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