Back to school means back to after school STEM for our STEM Guides team. The STEM Guides project acts as a connector between kids and out of school STEM activities in their communities. Currently, we have two active STEM hubs, one in Oxford Hills, and one Down East. Both are working with local businesses, non-profits, and schools to find what each area has to offer in terms of fun, out of school STEM opportunities for local kids ages 10-18. Guides hope to connect interested kids to a variety of activities, with one activity leading to another and creating a STEM pathway.
STEM Guides is a research program, and we at MMSA are trying to find out the best ways to connect rural youth to out-of-school STEM opportunities in their areas. Often, families may not know about the plethora of activities right outside their doors. How families navigate these opportunities and what motivates kids to try one thing over another, and how they find them in the first place are questions we investigate in each hub. Hopefully, at the end of the project, we will have concrete suggestions for after school providers on how to get kids to find and take next steps when it comes to STEM activities.
This year, as part of the STEM Guides program, our partner, 4-H, will coordinate a number of Teen Science Cafes that introduce high schoolers on the STEM in emergency response and management. Local professionals in the field will share their career stories and explain how they use technology and science. These cafes also include a fun hands-on component so kids can get a feel for the technology themselves.