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Summer Activities Connect Young Students with STEM

Jul 16, 2013

Students who have the opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at a young age often have the advantage in academic success, which ultimately impacts their careers down the line. But education does not necessarily need to take place in a formalized classroom setting. A series of summer initiatives built around STEM can give students the foundation of STEM knowledge, and help the youngest learners start building their leadership skills early.

Several recent reports underscore the importance of introducing students to STEM subjects at an early (pre-college) age, which can help shape top talent to fill worker pipelines. A 2011 study by Microsoft found that almost four in five college students pursuing STEM chose their field in high school or earlier.

Opportunities to educate students in STEM abound, in the form of apprenticeships, summer camp programs, and hands-on events where young students can participate outside of school. Here is a closer look at several activities and events to introduce STEM to young students taking place across the country-and on the web-this summer.

Building Projects at Home with Maker Camp

Students age 13 and older who aren't enrolled in a STEM camp can still take part in free virtual field trips, such as recent online tours of NASA's Ames SpaceShop in California and NASA headquarters in Washington DC through the online Maker Camp, (sponsored by Maker Media, in partnership with Radio Shack) running through Aug. 16. They can also join daily Google+ hangouts or check out a DIY project every morning on the site, which provides students with a community forum to upload videos, photos, and notes to share with other "campers" who have signed up.

Those who log on can see how projects are built, with suggested materials and instructions. Other than materials that kids can find either at home or a grocery store, all that's required is a computer, a phone, or tablet with access to a Google+ account to get started.

Check out more on Maker Camp's robot efforts here:

STEM in the Schoolyard Connects with Low-Income 6th Graders

On Friday, Texas Instruments and the charitable organization Family Giving Tree is scheduled to host the STEM in the Schoolyard event for families and students who are part of the Downtown College Prep (DCP) Summer Bridge Program, created for the incoming sixth-grade low-income students. At the event, which will be held at the Santa Clara University Recital Hall, students will see presentations and participate in hands-on activities related to STEM - such as using chromatography to design bandanas and learning about the effects of superconductivity on liquids and gases.

Organization leaders and elected officials will also be on board to discuss the importance of collaborative efforts between the businesses, education, government communities to advance STEM efforts.

"All of the students we will honor on July 19th are the first in their families to be college bound," according to Jennifer Cullenbine, founder and CEO for Family Giving Tree. "Imagine what it means to them to be well prepared to pursue their dreams and create a better life. We are thrilled to play a small part in their future success."

Students will also walk away with gift bags filled with supplies fromFamily Giving Tree andTI-30XS MultiView scientific calculators from Texas Instruments.

STEM Teen Reads Inspire Kids with Sci-Fi Books

This summer at Northern Illinois University (NIU), teens can break away from their required reading lists, shift to fiction books, and find out the deeper meaning about the science STEM teen readbehind the pages. The STEM Teen Read program, which is free and runs all year, has a Facebook page, where teens can share science articles or post comments about their latest science read.

On July 30, Mike Mullen, author of Ashfall, a book centered around a supervolcano, will be on campus to discuss his book, with experts on board to discuss volcanology, food science, and the physics of tae kwon do.

The reading initiative is part of NIU's STEM Outreach, which was developed to build interest in STEM among students (and teachers) and raise awareness on the subject matters through activities and hands-on events. For more, see the website here.