Youth STEM Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County
Youth STEM Programs
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County has always incorporated STEM education into its programming. Using partners like 4H & Mad Science as well as curriculum developed nationally and internally. Recent programming includes exploration of Winter. Our youth enjoy hands-on learning experiences, as well as creative approaches and use of multi-media. We utilize technology like Schoology, a Learning Management System, to provide our staff professionals with resources to develop and execute lesson plans with recognized and high-quality resources. Schoology supports our students with a multi-media, personal, and structured learning experience too. Our STEM programs teach, enrich and encourage a curious mind to understand processes, scientific inquiry, and our world.
As an example, below is our January BGCM STEM Curriculum and alignment to educational standards, plus some of our youth participants:
STEM Partnership Programs
The Club delivers a wide variety of STEM opportunities for area K-12 grade students throughout the year. Some of our STEM programs involve partnerships with organizations that can deliver educational programs for a specific STEM area. In the past, BGCM has partnered with Rutgers 4H Youth Development, Drobots, Mad Science, Scholar Tree, Academy of Natural Science, and Central Jersey Engineering for Kids. This brings "real-world" experience and proven programs into our Clubs, while making it a fun and enjoyable experience for our youth.
Our partnership programs bring enriching experiences and hands-on learning to our kids. For some recent examples, our Mad Science curriculum for Fall 2020 included:
• Scientific Method: students learned about the various stages of the Scientific Method. This workshop introduced students to making a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, and discussing outcomes.
• Slime Time: In this program, we explored, created, and played with the most entertaining and useful molecule known to science, and discovered its many shapes and forms. Children made their own slime that they got to take home and keep!
• Dry Ice-capades: Children were introduced to the scientific concepts of phase changes and states of matter. They witnessed the phenomenon of sublimation as they demonstrated the unique properties of dry ice & the spectacular "smoke" it creates.
• ph Factor: Children reviewed the colorful pH scale and dipped into the world of acids and bases! Through Mad Science, they explored the pH extremes with Reaction Tubes in a popping experience! Discovering whether liquids found at school were acids or bases using your personal pH Paper.
Annual Youth STEM Conference
The conference for 5th to 9th graders is open to the community and continues an annual fall tradition. Last year in 2020, students participated in-person at the Spruce Street Club in Lawrence or virtually over Zoom. Local companies and organizations lead the workshops and panels, making it truly a community experience to serve youth and inspire young minds with possiblities.
With over a dozen workshops to choose from, students learned and enjoyed STEM activities that introduced, fit or expanded their interests. Oceanography, robotics, health science, material science, computing, and network engineering represented some workshop areas. Enthusiastic volunteers from local companies and organizations presented all workshops. For example, STEM Conference supporters Comcast, BMS, Nordson, and AT&T presented along with Princeton University, TCNJ, and MCCC. Students also asked questions and listened to career panels to understand STEM professionals' academic and career paths. Kimberly Smith, Regional Director for Comcast Community Impact, stated, "We recognize the importance of STEM education in preparing kids for our future workforce. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County's annual STEM Conference allows students to hear from a diverse group of professionals working in various industries. It supports our commitment to expand digital skills within our communities and create a diverse workplace where everyone has an opportunity to succeed."
In 2020, the event kicked-off with a keynote from a local leader in pharmaceuticals, Carol Lynch, President of Sandoz US. She gave an inspiring speech and explained, "At a corporate level, it is imperative that we support programs like this, and we find opportunities to volunteer and mentor the next generation of STEM leaders." Our STEM conference does this and so much more.
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