An answer to your question! #7 “What can I do to advance interest in STEM in my community?”
What can I do as a young engineer to advance interest in STEM education in my community? I’ve volunteered at my local science museum in the past, but with a full time work schedule I’m unable to get booked there anymore. I’m passionate about getting more kids interested in science and engineering, but I don’t see a lot of ways to help.
I am ecstatic to hear about your interest in furthering STEM education in your community and its engineers like you that truly inspire the future generations!
Speaking as a teacher who has been assisting students with STEM competitions for a while now, there is ALWAYS a need for more help. Especially since you are bringing your engineering background to the table. One of the easiest ways for you to get involved is to visit your local school system’s website and look a list of the current STEM initiatives. Typically, for Technology Education, we are encouraged to have their students participate in such activities as a way of reinforcing curriculum and attracting more kids to the programs. Any help you can afford really is priceless to the students and teachers alike.
Here are some of the organizations the students in my school system actively participates in:
FIRST Robotics: Probably the STEM competition that you could most assist with. Our FIRST robotics team typically has two outside engineers work with the students on design and electrical. FIRST LEGO League: An absolutely fantastic competition for elementary and middle school students to design, program and compete with LEGO based robotics. TSA: Each school typically has a TSA chapter. The competitions directly correlate to the national educational standards in science, technology, engineering and math. Junior Solar Sprint: Another great competition where middle school students research, design and compete with small solar electric cars. BTW, they are typically looking for judges. Science Olympiad: A HUGE organization, and very popular at my school, that has a vast series of competitions for K-12 science and technology.
There are a ton more, and each school system is different. If I had more time at mine, I would love to start a Solar Car Challenge team.
Next up is Randy with a question about teaching 2nd & 3rd graders about conductors!
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First thing I’d do is call it STEAM and explicitly include ART in the program.
STEM by itself is sterile and will not reproduce well.
There is only a small subset of humanity that will find math/engineering/sci-tech interesting and exciting by itself (and those may not get along with rest of humanity very well, being too geeky and often lacking social skills).
Show kids the fun art side to catch their interest and creativity. Show them (have them do) projects that do fun things using tech and then slip the harder stuff in as the path to get to fun stuff.
The competitions & challenges are one way to motivate/direct kids but my (limited, non-educator, just mentor) experience is that it also alienates some kids – or those that are motivated will alienate those that are not as excited by the competitive nature. Art projects attract a whole different crowd. Then you can have an Art & Tech mini-makerfaire to show off and share the results.
hmm, maybe we need a national STEAM Art & Tech competition ala the science fair.