DYK there’s more than one way to do STEM outreach?
- Product-based program. These are typically centered around some sort of tool, gadget or “kit” that’s designed to spark kid’s curiosity.
- STEM clubs. Another model that’s commonly used to enhance learning for students that are excited to explore one subject in greater detail. Code clubs are a great example, and pretty widely available these days.
- Experiential / grass roots programs. These connect community & curriculum through volunteer STEM role models.
At Engineers of Tomorrow, we want to tell better stories about engineering.
You can read more about WHY we want to do that here
For us, the BEST way to achieve OUR goal is a “grass roots” STEM outreach model.
What is that?
Simply put, we connect volunteer engineers with kids to create positive STEM experiences.
Want to know more?
Here are 7 reasons WHY we think this model is pretty great!
1. More relevant
Kids are connecting with a real engineer – someone from their community. Someone that experiences the same community problems. Someone that can, well, relate! We’ve seen this in action at Halton District School Board’s I-STEM program. Local grade 9 students helped solve a real, relevant erosion problem. How cool is that!?!
2. Better engagement/ownership
The person DOING the STEM outreach is invested. They’re volunteering their valuable time, and they’ve got a story to tell. That comes through and helps to create great connections with students. But, it also helps the volunteer feel a sense of ownership. They’re better engaged and invested in ensuring that it will be a great experience for everyone.
3. Diversity & inclusion is integrated
Engineers solve problems and design solutions to help the community. In order to design solutions that work for everyone, we need diversity to minimize blind spots & biased design solutions. With a grass-roots models, the volunteers get this! They understand the value of diversity and want to share that vision with others. So for us it’s just a matter of connecting the dots. helping those volunteers find a way to amplify their stories and voices.
4. It’s a win-win!
Would it surprise you to hear that 90% of our volunteers told us that they are motivated to participate because they see it as an opportunity for THEM connect to their profession in a unique way. In other words…it’s a win for them! Of course, it’s a win for the kids that are getting better stories about engineering too.
5. More accessible
By keeping costs down & utilizing volunteers, we’re able to offer our program FREE of charge. Making it accessible to any teacher that wants to bring engineering experiences into the classroom.
The great thing about having hundreds of volunteer engineers as a part of your team is their combined problem solving abilities! Last year, when schools shut down, our volunteers took it upon themselves to figure out a way to continue to stay connected. No matter what new protocols pop up, our volunteers are resilient enough to figure something out! The grass-roots model keeps us naturally agile & flexible.
7. Better ROI
Our most valuable resource is our volunteers. Hundreds of engineers that DONATE their time. That means that we can scale the impact further without running up our budget! We happen to be firm believers that it doesn’t take a lot of money to get kids curious.