This month, we’re exploring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the need for more kids to get involved and excited about STEM topics in middle school, where interest usually tends to wane. We’ve asked local STEM expert Cyndi Reitmeyer, Founder of BostonTechMom, to share some of her best tips to help parents inspire their children to learn about and explore STEM.
5 Ways for Kids to Explore STEM
Would you like to get your child involved in out-of-school STEM activities (science, technology, engineering, and math) but aren’t sure where to start? The good news is you have a lot of options to choose from in Massachusetts.
After-School Enrichment Programs
Most elementary and middle schools offer after-school enrichment programs, often sponsored by organizations like Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO). As STEM programs have grown in popularity, many after-school programs now offer STEM-based programs like coding classes and robotics. These programs are a great way for kids to “test-drive” STEM topics in the comfort of their school and among friends. This is a great opportunity to try something new, and without a big commitment. Classes generally run for about 6-8 weeks and are priced affordably.
Library STEM Programs
It is not uncommon for libraries to offer STEM programs and workshops for kids and teens. Inquire with your children’s librarian to see if they offer opportunities, and if your local branch does not, expand your search to include neighboring libraries. Libraries post their activities in calendars on their websites, so it’s easy to search for and find programs. Also, library programs are generally free!
Hour of Code
The ‘Hour of Code’ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Students can participate anytime — the free tutorials and activities are available online year-round. This is a great activity to do at home. It’s easy to get involved and no experience is necessary. Most activities are theme-based and many are centered around TV shows and movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Frozen. Visit Hour of Code to view all tutorials.
STEM Summer Camps
Summer is an excellent time for kids to explore STEM and try something new. There are programs for kids as young as elementary school all the way through high school. The options are wide and varied, so you can really find something that will interest your child. Visit BostonTechMom’s STEM Summer Camp Guide and discover over 100 camps in Massachusetts. Note: STEM camps often fill up fast, so try and register by late winter/early spring.
If you are looking to introduce your child to STEAM (STEM with “Art”), visiting a makerspace and participating in an activity could open their eyes to a great new experience. Makerspaces are all about hands-on projects, giving kids the chance to use their imagination and inventiveness to design and make things. Visit BostonTechMom to find Makerspaces in Massachusetts.
The amount and variety of STEM programs are growing throughout Massachusetts. There really is something for every student’s interests and abilities. Kids love to explore and try new things, so the earlier they can experiment with different STEM topics, the more exposure they will get to subjects they might want to pursue in school and beyond.
BostonTechMom is a resource for parents who want to inspire their children to explore and learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). BostonTechMom’s mission is to encourage kids to explore STEM at a young age and help parents find programs that will excite and motivate their children. BostonTechMom’s website identifies events, programs, and activities that expose children to technology in fun, engaging, and meaningful ways. The website features after-school programs and summer camps with a focus on computer programming, robotics, engineering, science, and other STEM subjects, as well as reviews of specific programs and guidance for parents.
About Cyndi Reitmeyer
Cyndi Reitmeyer is Founder of BostonTechMom, a resource for parents who want to inspire their children to explore and learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). BostonTechMom is the go-to resource for STEM opportunities in Massachusetts, focusing on computer programming, robotics, engineering, and other science-related subjects in a variety of formats.