BYU: STEM Club Strengthens Science Learning for Kids and Teachers | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of South Franklin Community Center

A student looks at a drone from the BYU Drone Club tour.

Within the cheerful, artwork-covered walls of the South Franklin Community Center, South Provo residents find resources, programs and a sense of community. One of the main benefits of the center is an after-school STEM club led by BYU McKay School teacher Ryan Nixon.

The STEM club is held once a week at the community center and around 15-20 students aged 4-14 attend regularly. According to Stephanie Anderson, director of the South Franklin Community Center, the STEM club is one of the most popular classes at the community center. The club provides enrichment activities for students and helps close a significant achievement gap in STEM for underserved populations.

The club’s teachers, current elementary school students from McKay School, plan lessons based on student interests and cover a wide variety of subjects including aviation, agriculture, anatomy, science and technology. engineering and chemistry.

“A program like this is great because it gives service to the community and helps the children who attend, but it also benefits the students at McKay School,” Nixon said. “Not only do they have a job, but they gain teaching experience.”

Two elementary students from McKay School plan lessons and teach for the program at all times. Additionally, a lead teacher has been running the STEM club program for about a year now.

Courtesy of South Franklin Community Center

A STEM Club student makes Oobleck.

“My colleagues and I had to learn how to create lessons that will be engaging for children of all ages,” said Elizabeth Tagg, a McKay School student who has been teaching at the center since August 2021. my scientific knowledge as well as in my love for science.

McKay School student Emily Zumwalt says the club is a unique teaching experience. “Having students aged 4 to 14, we had to be accommodating in our lesson planning to ensure our course reached all ages,” she said.

Both Tagg and Zumwalt focus their lessons on interactive learning and experiences. “With each of these experiences, we want children to learn, not through direct instruction, but through observations they find,” Zumwalt says.

During a recent social media takeover, Tagg shared a lesson that taught students the rock cycle using Starburst candy. The students manipulated their Starbursts through all stages of the cycle, including fusing them to form simulated “metamorphic rock”, melting them into “magma”, and cooling the molten candies into “igneous rock”.

This level of creativity is pretty standard, according to Zumwalt: “Some of my favorite experiences have been a simulation space mission where students had to rescue someone trapped on Mars, attend BYU’s Paleontology Museum, and learn about different dinosaurs and how people found them plunging into rocks and building our own Rube Goldberg machines.

Courtesy of South Franklin Community Center

STEM club students charting their upper body.

While these experiences and activities may seem like a mundane pastime for participants, STEM club can help close a troubling achievement gap. Research has shown that although students from underserved populations – minority, low-income and/or first-generation students – express the same interest in STEM subjects and careers as the general student population, their levels success rates lag far behind those of other demographic groups. groups.

A report on STEM subjects and underserved learners by American College Testing determined that students with a single underserved characteristic are less ready for STEM studies than their peers. Students with two characteristics have STEM readiness 20% lower than average, and when all three characteristics are present, the rate is 34% lower.

Groups like the STEM Club are helping close that achievement gap, one starburst-filled lesson at a time. Club members not only have fun, but also prepare for their academic future.

“Participants enjoy exploring STEM-related activities, solving problems, being physically active and learning! said Stephanie Anderson. “The activities are well prepared, the staff is knowledgeable and they have organized field trips and family activities.”


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