Keeping kids engaged after school can become more challenging as the year goes on and routines become stagnant. Much like rapidly changing technology trends, afterschool staff are constantly finding new and innovative ways to stimulate young minds at the end of a long day.
As many YMCA afterschool staff will agree: STEM is a fun and easy-to-implement recipe for success!
Studies reveal STEM activities help children develop confidence, gain problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and begin to imagine themselves in STEM careers.
Afterschool programs are well-positioned to ensure all youth get the STEM exposure needed to help reach their full potential in life.
Ready to integrate STEM after school? Here are five ways to get started:
- Observation: Once children and teens begin STEM activities, their eyes are opened to the world around them. Encourage youth to look closely at their environments and ask questions about everything. Remind them that STEM is everywhere and in everything we do.
- Question: When youth begin to inquire about the world around them, prompt them with questions, like: What makes these leaves greener than those? How can I get this rocket to hit that target? How much weight can this bridge hold?
- Plan and Investigate: Have youth use their critical-thinking skills to make a plan and investigate what would happen in order to discover the answers to their own questions about the world. Have them work in teams to solve problems and motivate them to build relationships on the strengths of others by discovering the unique talents each individual brings to the group.
- Analyze: Encourage youth to continue using critical-thinking skills to ponder deeply about what their investigations have revealed. By analyzing their results, they are sharpening key 21st-century skills.
- Report Findings: Learning to properly communicate ideas and solutions is critical. STEM activities provide an opportunity for youth to share observations and discoveries. Their voice and view are always significant.