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Four STEM Curriculum Resources for After-School Programs

By The Room 241 Team May 28, 2013

The STEM curriculum should be a key feature in any school-related program. Helping children continue to grow and learn in their after-school programs can make a true difference in their overall education. STEM(science, technology, engineering, math) education programs focus on preparing students for the challenging, science-based fields that have increasing importance in the modern world. Further enrichment during after-school activities will allow children to explore the subjects in more depth and can even inspire more to take an interest. It is important for those running after-school programs to have access to the resources they need to help guide students in these areas to make the subjects both exciting and challenging. Here are some excellent resources available to get started.

First Robotics

This program has declared its mission to inspire children to desire to become science and technology leaders. With programs available for students starting as early as kindergarten, pupils learn to apply science to their activities and take learning to a new level. Students begin by learning about Lego building and robotics, designing posters and presentations. They progress through stages until they are prepared to build their own robots and put them to the test. By the time they reach high school, students are challenged to form teams to build robots that will be entered in competitions against other teams. These programs combine the thrill and competitiveness of sports with growth of the mind and use of technology. As an added bonus, there are numerous scholarships available to students who participate in these activities.

Space Science Education Resource Directory (NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has developed this resource for teachers and educators to use to develop exciting lessons and guided discussions about everything related to space. The lessons are divided  by subject and  age. Elementary school students, for example, have lessons related to the solar system and learning about the planets, whereas high school-age students will probably be more intrigued by a discussion related to black holes and how they are related to the speed of light and gravity. These lessons are dedicated to helping space come alive for students and peaking their interest in the fascinating universe they inhabit.

Science After School Consumer Guide

This is another database of lesson plans and activities designed to help guide teachers and other educators in developing meaningful activities to inspire students within the STEM subjects. The lessons are accompanied by reviews, which can help with determining which lessons are more likely to interest students. They are also divided by age and subject to make browsing a little easier. There are some lesson plans that cost money, but a number that do not, and educators can search for plans based on cost if they are only interested in those that are free.

4-H Science Program

4-H founded their program in an effort to reduce the shortage of scientists emerging from U.S. colleges and universities. They want to encourage youth to become interested in the hard sciences that many American students seem to shy away from. This site offers a variety of resources. There are various events and programs, such as the 4-H National Youth Science Day and the environmental science and alternative energy programs, as well as resources for a 4-H science curriculum. The organization encourages students to learn hands – on to help peak their interest and encourage them to keep learning. Students are also able to see how science and technology affect their daily lives. They also make use of volunteers and mentors from the science community to inspire children.

After-school programs often are faced with a challenging situation. They want to create an enriching environment for children, but also know that now that the students are done with the school day, they do not want to spend too much time sitting behind a desk. Fortunately, there are many activities that can encourage learning while still allowing students to explore and create. The resources above should help educators get started in keeping the STEM curriculum alive in their after-school programs.

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