|One of many STEM clubs for tweens|
When my oldest was in first grade, he was very upset because, in his words, “there’s no science!” at school. I calmly tried to explain that documenting the life of a pumpkin from seed to fruit was, indeed, science, but he wouldn’t hear it. He wanted drama and, if possible, explosions. So we started the Potion Club. We met after school once a month with a small group of curious friends to explore exciting concepts like non-Newtonian fluids (i.e., Oobleck) and static electricity.
A few years and a couple of schools later he was involved in Science Olympiad, one of the many competitive and educational STEM clubs available to tweens.
STEM Competitions and Clubs can spark their love
Just hanging with peers who think STEM is cool can go a long way in supporting a geeky kid in our sports-obsessed society. And the added layer of competition can help kids focus and try to be their best.
Below are national and international organizations that work with youth nationwide and though some of them work with teens, you can create an unofficial feeder group for tweens. If you’re not in a position to open up your own home to a group, connect with a local school, library or parks facility to see if they’d be willing to host your group.
Students hone their team work and creative problem solving skills as they join together to solve open -ended challenges and present their ideas at tournaments.
Based on the idea that it should be exciting to watch a science competition, this program for 9-14 year olds in North America (up to 16 elsewhere) involves kids in robotics.
With a mission to “develop the ability of young people globally to design and promote positive futures using critical, creative thinking,” this program is more exciting than it may sound.
Another even that focus on finding creative solutions to challenges, but this one is a bit different in that some challenges require students to invent and build and other require them to script and act.
This school year will be our family’s fourth involved in Science Olympiad, which at my boys’ school relies heavily on parent involvement (call me Coach Kim!). Students compete in a variety of events, some of which focus heavily on building and others which focus more on learning facts. Our kids love that their participation earns them a spot at the state competition.
Do you have experience with these or STEM clubs or competitions? How have your kids have grown through their involvement?