It has been a struggle maintaining students’ interest in STEM. U.S. News reported in 2013 that close to 60 percent of the nation’s students who begin high school interested in STEM, change their minds by graduation.
Due to this loss of interest, many school districts have looked at different ways to spark students’ interest in STEM learning early, and keep them interested in pursuing STEM related fields after high school.
Numerous districts across the country have successfully reached this goal due in part to adopting new technology that teaches students STEM skills. These technologies range from online games to electronic building blocks and help students learn STEM concepts through engaging activities and challenges.
While it is vitally important for students to learn STEM skills in school, many after-school programs have looked to help maintain students’ interest in STEM as well.
Goskagit.com, the Skagit Valley Herald’s online newspaper, recently reported that the La Conner Boys & Girls Club is looking to increase students’ interest in STEM through the implementation of new computers equipped with programs such as Khan Academy, an online program that provides free STEM lessons, and Kodu Game Lab, which gives kids beginning lessons in programming. Furthermore, the clubs’ older kids will have access to programs such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, where much of their school work can be accessed. This implementation was made possible by a $130,000 a year grant from Tesoro Anacortes Refinery. The grant is to last for three years.
The article reports that La Conner Boys & Girls Club has installed three new computers in the club’s homework area, increasing the amount of students who use the area for school-related tasks.
Furthermore, the club is also looking to partner with organizations such as the Burlington Public Library to provide STEM programs to not only members of the club, but also the entire community.
It’s easy to forget that not all students have access to technology after school. When after-school programs and community organizations are able to provide students with access to resources such as computers, students are not only able to complete homework, but are also inspired to learn even after they’ve left school.
Technology has certainly helped expand learning beyond the walls of schools, but not all students have immediate access to computers and internet after school. Involving community organizations in technology initiatives and learning programs helps districts reach learning goals and keeps students motivated to learn and improve on skills outside of the classroom.
For school districts looking to expand learning outside of school walls, consider looking at your local community organizations that hold after-school programs to see whether or not they are equipped with learning resources. If these organizations seem to be lacking adequate resources, perhaps start a discussion as to how these organizations may be able to integrate learning technology and resources into their after-school programs. Reaching out to these organizations is the first step to developing a relationship that may help to expand and enhance every students’ learning experience.
Looking for technology grants for your district? Take a look at our Guide to Over 20 Technology Grants for Schools.