There’s a lot of discussion about the need for more people to go into STEM-based careers, but how do you get kids interested? [should I cut the lead in?] At Kids Need Enrichment (KNE) we try to provide fun, exciting, learning opportunities whenever and wherever we can including STEM / STEAM events at our local public library and elementary schools to engage kids in STEAM through hands-on activities and demonstrations. Since 2015 KNE has organized and run:
- 2 STEAM Fairs at our local public library with professional organizations and scientists
- 9 STEM / STEAM Nights at local elementary schools with student volunteers
- 2 STEAM events to celebrate the end of summer reading program at our local library with student volunteers
- 1 KNE STEM Talk for elementary through high school-aged students to present their passion for STEM
We have recruited professional organizations and scientists to present at STEAM Fairs at our local library to engage families and our entire community in the wonderful world of STEAM. Providing access to scientists and organizations they might not otherwise see broadens people’s perspectives. At these events attendees have been able to learn about STEAM in many different ways including touch dinosaur fossils, eat a cricket, hold a millipede, touch baleen from a whale’s mouth, work on computer game designs, try virtual reality, learn about shellfish restoration on Long Island, extract DNA, and see the effects of liquid nitrogen and the vacuum of space.
We work with middle and high school student volunteers to organize and run STEM / STEAM Nights for hundreds of kids and their families at elementary schools. The concept is for student volunteers to design and run 12 to 20 fun, engaging activities and demonstrations so younger kids can explore and learn about STEAM. We work with student volunteers to determine how long would it take to run activities, how many kids can do them at the same time, how much the activities will cost, and how can to accommodate all of kids at an event. Having older students run these events creates incredible positive energy and enthusiasm. Elementary school kids really respond to having older kids work with them. We also invite the host school’s teachers and parents, local STEM-based middle and high school teams, and other local organizations to participate for terrific community building events.
Similarly, we’ve also organized STEAM activities to help our local library celebrate the end of the children’s summer reading program. Elementary school-aged kids who have completed the summer reading program have enjoyed the same types of STEAM activities from our STEM / STEAM Nights.
We have also hosted a STEM Talk for kids of all ages to talk about what excites them from the world of STEM. Topics ranged from high school science research to how to hunt for fossils to black holes to a demonstration of a life-sized robot a student built. We hosted a practice session and provided mentoring from high school volunteers. This was a great opportunity for kids to practice their public speaking while sharing their passion for STEM.
We’re always looking for new ways to get people excited about the world of STEAM. Let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any suggestions for events or activities. Also, if you’re trying to create a STEAM event, feel free to contact us (email@example.com). We’d be happy to help you get started!