The hottest trend in after-school activities is called STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Being a nerd is not required, but learning and being passionate about these fields is welcomed.
STEM programs are popping up all over the Kansas City metro area. This is due to the Obama administration announcement in 2009 “Educate to Innovate” campaign geared to encourage, inspire students to excel in STEM subjects. The campaign was introduced due to the staggering statistics from U.S. Department of Education showing only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a STEM occupation and proficient in math skills. There are different activities and clubs associated with each grade level, here is a basic list of what is expected from each age group.
- Elementary grades (1st – 5th) focus on the beginning levels of the STEM program and awareness of the different STEM fields and occupations. This ranges from real-life problem solving and basic mathematics.
- Middle school students (6th – 8th) focus on more complex and vigorous STEM activities. This is deeper exploration within the STEM fields and occupation as well as academic requirements related to these fields, such as robotics and coding.
- High school students (9th – 12th) begin to focus on preparation for post-secondary education with the STEM field as well as employment. The challenges and activities are more demanding to prepare the student for scholarships and opportunities in STEM occupations.
Here is a breakdown of activities offered through Sylvan Learning Centers to help you find the right program for your child.
- Robotics (grades 2-4 and 4-6): Fun, hands-on projects building and animating LEGO® robots
- Coding for Kids (grades 3-5 and 6-8): Cool, interactive projects creating video games and animations.
- Math Edge (grades 1-5): “Brain boosting” activities that will increase your child’s math speed and accuracy.
Other opportunities can be found within your school district, for example Lee Summit School District offers programs, such as Robotic Teams and First LEGO League. According to their brochure and FLL website they receive a challenge based on a set of real-world problems facing scientist and engineers today. It has two parts: the Robot Game – design, build, program and test robots to perform series task, or missions – and The Project – team’s research a real-world problem and create an innovative solution.
If you still not sure if you want your child to invest in a STEM after-school activity, consider this, according to a report by STEMconnector.org, it is estimated that there will be a need for 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs by 2018. While the manufacturing sector is experiencing a huge shortage of employees – nearly 600,000 — with these necessary skills.
Live Science: What is STEM Education?
US Department of Education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leaders
STEMconnector.org: Overview Advancing a Job-Driven Economy