Engineering puts the “E” in STEM, an acronym used to describe the study of science, technology, engineering and math. STEM careers are rapidly growing, and engineering represents a majority of these STEM jobs. (To learn more, read Computing and Engineering in Afterschool). In order to prepare our students for a STEM-driven economy, educators must provide activities that spark students’ interest in STEM. Afterschool is a great catalyst for students to explore engineering though hands-on, student-centered activities.
Here are five ways to incorporate engineering in afterschool:
- Educate. Many students do not know much about engineering or what an engineer does. Once they discover engineering, students may develop an interest in the topic. Check out this video by NASA to introduce students to engineering.
- TryEngineering. This organization offers 114 lesson plans designed to get students interested in engineering. Lessons can be selected based on students’ age range and by an engineering topic, like robotics or motion and forces.
- Robotics. Programs like LEGO Robotics pair computing and engineering to tap into students’ problem solving skills. At AlphaBEST, students build and program robots according to step-by-step instructions. With robotics, students explore the basics of engineering by focusing on what makes the robot work.
- Mentor. Leverage community resources to put a face to engineering. Invite parents and other community members to further explain engineering and to discuss their careers with students. There are also programs, such as Engineering for Kids®, that will bring fun, hands-on engineering projects to your program.
- Discover Engineering. This website provides hands-on activities, videos, games, field trip ideas and other resources to discover engineering in your afterschool program. Activities are tailored for educators, parents, volunteers and students, and many of their activities can be translated into other languages.
Educators should build a year-long commitment to spark students’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Check out this Pinterest board for 50+ activities to incorporate STEM in afterschool.