Struggling to engage youth in STEM learning? Looking for ways to motivate youth to think critically about STEM activities? Click2Science has compiled a few easy tricks staff can use to guide youth in STEM programming.
Facilitators can make STEM learning more engaging and relatable to youth by illustrating how the activity is connected to STEM careers. By using careers as examples, youth will begin to envision themselves in those roles and be able to relate to STEM learning in a more meaningful way. Facilitators can make connections to careers by assigning youth different jobs or tasks within the activity to experience different roles in the workplace. Staff can also invite STEM role models, such as real engineers or scientists, to join in an activity and interact with youth. Engaging the role model in an activity, rather than having them stand and speak about his or her job, will be more meaningful to youth.
The role of the group leader should be to observe and guide the learning process, not control it. Facilitators must be able to balance their level of involvement so that youth have the opportunity to actively participate in the STEM learning experience. Staff can do this by asking open-ended questions, which will allow youth lead the learning process and come to their own conclusions. Facilitators can also give youth control by encouraging them to direct the activity themselves or teach their peers what they know.
Learning to work together is a critical component of science and engineering. Frontline staff can facilitate and support youth interaction as they engage in STEM learning experiences by giving youth opportunities to solve problems in a group or in pairs. Encouraging youth to talk to each other and solve problems together will help them learn from each other’s experiences.
What ways do you find work best to engage youth? What experiences and advice can you share for other frontline staffers? Share with us your experience in the comment box below!