These past few months have been a whirlwind! I moved to San Antonio and started my new work at Communities In Schools. I was excited, but nervous, to take on the challenge of creating brand new STEM programs for middle school students. Luckily I had a few years of volunteer work in Maryland developing and leading after school programs, but this is an official role with lots of eyes watching!
The best part of the job is the freedom to develop the programs I want. I am working with four middle schools and tasked with creating 2 programs at each. Our target is about 200 students. I am looking at the individual needs and culture at each school, and I am trying to develop a program that is engaging, accessible, and sustainable. This has been my work for several months, and I am finally over the initial hurdles of getting things moving!
One big challenge is being everywhere at once. Each week I make several trips from my office to each of the 4 sites to lead the programs, deliver supplies, make outreach presentations to students, and speak with administrators and teachers. Hence my car becoming the STEM mobile classroom...
After years of working in an informal classroom setting, these are what I find to be staples to a great STEM program:
- Food - Important because students are often really hungry! Plus a great recruitment tool.
- Candy - I find this to be the easiest positive incentive. I agree that it doesn't promote a healthy life style, but let me know if you find something better to keep 45 students paying attention. This is a short term incentive, whereas I also include long term incentives. To be discussed in a future post.
- Pens and pencils
- Graphing or composition notebooks - Students use these to making diagrams, record results, brainstorm ideas, and reflect on activities. Perfect way to incorporate writing and communication skills into STEM learning.
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper towels
- Trash bags
- Tape - Both masking and scotch
- Paper - Both copy and notebook
- Measuring tape
- Rolling crate - A must!
- Expanding folder - To carry and protect handouts
- Storage boxes
- Pug is optional :)