My tween has always been curious about life and the world around us. In fact, just the other day he asked me if a particle accelerator can be used for space travel. Um, what? Thank goodness for Google. We found the answer.
But kids with a natural curiosity and inherent love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) might want more than a typical grade school classroom provides. Maybe they want to go beyond the curriculum. Or maybe a focus on rote memorization and prepping for state tests has taken the fun on out STEM.
STEM-focused clubs and competitions can spark their love.
Just hanging with peers who think STEM is cool can go a long way in supporting a geeky kid in our sports-obsessed society. And the added layer of competition can help kids focus and try to be their best.
Below are national and international organizations that work with youth nationwide and though some of them work with teens, you can create an unofficial feeder group for tweens. If you’re not in a position to open up your own home to a group, connect with a local school, library or parks facility to see if they’d be willing to host your group.
Destination Imagination Students hone their team work and creative problem solving skills as they join together to solve open -ended challenges and present their ideas at tournaments.
First LEGO League Based on the idea that it should be exciting to watch a science competition, this program for 9-14 year olds in North America (up to 16 elsewhere) involves kids in robotics.
Future Problem Solvers With a mission to “develop the ability of young people globally to design and promote positive futures using critical, creative thinking,” this program is more exciting than it may sound.
Odyssey of the Mind Another even that focus on finding creative solutions to challenges, but this one is a bit different in that some challenges require students to invent and build and other require them to script and act.
Science Olympiad This school year will be our family’s fourth involved in Science Olympiad, which at my boys’ school relies heavily on parent involvement (call me Coach Kim!). Students compete in a variety of events, some of which focus heavily on building and others which focus more on learning facts. Our kids love that their participation earns them a spot at the state competition.
Do you have experience with these or STEM clubs or competitions? How have your kids have grown through their involvement?