Creating STEM Learning Environments
Purpose: Frontline staff and volunteers will arrange their environment to maximize youth engagement and support physical and emotional safety during STEM activities.
As a result of ongoing, consistent professional development efforts, frontline staff and volunteers will be able to:
- Identify and mitigate risks to youth safety, such as trip hazards, sharp objects, or dangerous substances.
- Investigate science phenomena outdoors and in the local community.
- Arrange materials, seating, or other factors so that the space feels different than traditional school settings (avoiding desks in rows, facing front, teacher standing at whiteboard, etc.).
- Create respectful, supportive learning environment that encourages youth to engage with new ideas and different perspectives.
Staff Development Guides
Staff development guides are designed for coaches and trainers to use when providing professional development to frontline staff or volunteers. These downloadable step-by-step professional development guides include agendas, social and experiential learning activities, videos learning modules, supporting documents and handouts. The guides available below are designed to support the skill Encouraging Collaboration. For more information about Staff Development Guides, please visit About Staff Development Guides.
Participants go on a STEM Learning Environments walk-through to learn to get youth actively engaged in STEM learning.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Coaching (one-on-one)Length:15 minutes
Participants will plan a safe and engaging STEM field trip in order to creatively use physical space.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Meeting (small group)Length:20 minutes
Participants will critique drawn models of their learning spaces in order to creatively use the physical space in their program.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Meeting (small group)Length:20 minutes
Participants will plan four off-site learning opportunities to learn to prepare and plan safe STEM learning opportunities and environments.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Training (large group)Length:60 minutes
Participants will compare in-school and out-of-school time learning environments in order to design engaging OST spaces.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Coaching (one-on-one)Length:15 minutes
Participants will design a model learning environment in order to create physically safe and productive STEM learning spaces.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMSituation:Training (large group)Length:70 minutes
Self-Directed Web Lessons
Click2Science Web Lessons offer self-directed, on-demand professional development for frontline staff and volunteers. Web Lessons are hosted on Penn State Extension Better Kid Care learning management system. To complete a Click2Science Web Lesson, please review our instructions for accessing lessons on Better Kid Care. For more information about self-directed Web Lessons, please visit About Web Lessons.
How staff arrange the environment can impact the way youth engage and experience science, engineering, and math learning in an out-of-school time program. Learn how to set up space and arrange materials to maximize youth involvement. Strategies from practitioners include creative use of outdoor and indoor space and use of open-ended materials. Learn how to create affordable spaces of wonder and inquiry that differ from traditional school environments.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEM
Out-of-school time programs strengthen STEM learning by developing and deepening relationships with community partners. STEM-rich industries, interested academic and community-based STEM organizations bring expertise and creativity to school-age science, technology, engineering, and math efforts. Learn how to go beyond simply completing a joint project to building a relationship with stakeholders. Review model programs, practitioner advice, planning guides and a simple STEM activity.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEM
Youth need a safe space for learning STEM skills in afterschool programs. Safe space includes physical safety as well as emotional and social safety that should be a part of the culture of all afterschool programs. Through interactive experiences and resources, learn skills to create a safe space for youth for STEM learning experiences and to focus on interests and developmental levels of youth. This is one of 20 STEM facilitation skills that help STEM click for school-age children and youth.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEM
Click2Science hosts virtual professional development webinars each month focused on out-of-school time learning environments. STEM, professional development best practices, and other relevant events. All webinars are recorded and made available for on-demand viewing. The recorded, on-demand webinars below are designed to support the skill. Encouraging Collaboration. For more on-demand webinars or to register for an upcoming webinar, please visit our Webinar page.
Tara Dunker, WeCook Program Coordinator, shares creative ways her program has used space and supplies to engage youth in nutrition and physical fitness programming. Gain creative strategies to implement in your program to maximize the use of your space.Strategy:Preparing for Success in STEMDate:November 15, 2016