3 Ways to Make STEM Exciting For Young Learners

We love STEM at Boys & Girls Clubs! Today BGCA’s Yetta Robinson highlights how to make your programs and activities even more engaging for younger youth.

High-quality STEM programming is an important strategy to help our youth prepare for a great future, and this preparation starts young! Out-of-school time spaces provide unique learning environments to advance STEM knowledge and increase interest in STEM-related careers. When engaging with some of our youngest members (youth ages 8 and below), it’s important to ensure the content and curriculum are developmentally appropriate. Here are three quick reminders to check for to ensure your members are having a blast while diving into the amazing world of STEM! 

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Does it Explore Curiosity?

We watch tv, we use computers, we travel in cars and on buses. All of this is thanks to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We experience STEM every day, and so do our youngest learners. Get youth excited about STEM by allowing them to make connections and explore their curiosity.

Review your STEM programming and ask if there are ways youth can explore their interests.  

  • Ask youth to share some of their favorite things and find ways to connect it to STEM. 
  • Ask youth about their favorite STEM related activities, such as exploring the outdoors, playing computer and video games, or building things. 
  • Help youth design their own experiments to answer their questions. 
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Is it Accessible?

Everyone deserves the opportunity to access and engage in programming. Accessibility is the designing of content, facilities, and environments in a way that everyone, no matter ability, can access those resources.

Review your STEM programming and ask if the resources and the environment are accessible.  

  • Can the room/space be accessed by everyone? 
  • Can materials be reached and used by everyone? 
  • Is there a component of the activity that may be too loud or overstimulating for some members? 
  • Is the language and vocabulary developmentally appropriate? 
  • Try to use diverse images and videos so all youth can see themselves represented in STEM fields! It’s important that young people see others who look like them in their careers and doing tasks aligned to these subjects.  

Is it Playful?

Play is the work of a child. When youth are engaging in playful activities, their brains are creating, thinking, analyzing, and discovering. A big part of the learning journey for youth ages 8 and below happens during moments of play. 

Review your STEM programming to ask if these elements of play are included:  

  • Youth can make choices and use their voice 
  • Experimentation and moments of discovery 
  • Imagination and creativity 
  • Fun without a specific final goal or product 
  • Ability to make safe mistakes  
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Anyone can be a scientist. It takes a healthy dose of curiosity, creativity, and a willingness to solve problems. Young people tend to be naturally curious about the world around them, which makes them great scientists. Continuing to nurture these skills builds confidence in STEM subjects and ensures we have a world of future, diverse change makers. That’s why BGCA is excited to have partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to create 5 NEW STEM activities for youth ages 6-8. These activities are part of The Science of You badge, which takes youth  on a hands-on journey of the human body where they explore the brain, the heart, the skin, bones, and genes!

What are your favorite ways to introduce younger youth to STEM? How do you infuse fun and play into academic programming? We want to know! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.

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