Taking STEM outreach from good to GREAT!

Putting yourself in a classroom full of kids can feel intimidating, overwhelming….dare I say…scary!

But, you’ve made to decision to do it.

You want to give back.

You want to share your love of all things STEM.

But, what now?

How can you make sure that the kids will have an amazing experience?

Here are our Top Tips for taking STEM outreach from “good” to “GREAT”!

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Good: Show up! Just being there is an opportunity for students to see you as a role model. It’s an opportunity for them to connect their school work with the real world.

Great: Bring some “props” with you. Is there something you wear while at work? Lab coat, safety glasses, steel-toe boots, ear plugs, or hairnet. Bring it with you! Even better, let the kids try it on – letting them dress up like a real engineer is an experience they won’t forget. Maybe you have a cool tool you use, or a sample product you make. Bring those too! These are all great props to help you tell your STEM story.

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Good: Plan a hands-on activity to do with the kids. Kids love getting involved. Standing up and talking at kids will only hold their attention for so long. But, getting them involved and engaged in an activity will allow for some great learning and conversations.

Great: Plan a hands-on activity that is relevant! I’ll use a bridge-building activity as an example. It’s one thing to plan an activity for a group of students to design a build bridges to support a specified load. However, to level-up this type of activity, you can connect it to something relevant to the students. Maybe there has been significant flooding in their community? You might pretend that they have been commissioned by the city to design a new bridge.

Big picture, you can connect the activity to something the whole world is working on together – the UN Sustainable Development Goals. You might add dimension to the activity by challenging them to think about which of these goals they can consider during their bridge design.

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Good: Treat the girls and boys equally. There is all kinds of research coming out about the messages that girls are receiving about STEM. Notice how you behave. Are you calling on girls and boys to answer questions equally? Are you engaging the same with with both genders? Do your best to connect equally with everyone.

Great: Dig deeper into the research and learn about specific interventions you can implement. You can watch a replay of our webinar: Diversity Strategies in Engineering Outreach to learn more.

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Final thought – don’t let great be the enemy of good! Know that just getting started is the first step.

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