Some of the most valuable time that I spent as a teacher was working with groups of students after normal school hours. The pressure was off to cover the normal curriculum topics and we could go deeper into project-based work, where often the science and engineering that they learnt was at least as important as during their usual lessons.
I know that some of the projects in which the students engaged changed their career paths. It also allowed me to find out about areas that I would never have taught as a physics teacher, such as augmented reality and materials for prosthetic arms.
Science clubs, mathematics clubs, code clubs and all that comes under the STEM Club banner can be an important way for students to deepen their subject knowledge and relate them to the real world. Helping to broaden their perspective on careers, gain employability skills and sometimes interact with people outside of the school, such as STEM Ambassadors, who can provide expert subject knowledge and guidance across a plethora of topics.
As the government considers its options over an extended school day, we shouldn’t forget how much schools already do with enrichment after school. Many schools have been running successful STEM Clubs for years, happily combining STEM enrichment with curricular support. But, for those that are just starting out or looking to expand their offer, it can appear a little daunting, with club leaders asking themselves, 'where do I start?'
That’s actually an easy question to answer, because there is a wealth of information and support available from the STEM Clubs Programme – from support structures to professional development, to resources and project ideas. All designed to help teachers and technicians deliver quality enrichment activities that can support curricular learning, aiding students to catch up and get ahead. My personal favourite is the STEM Club activity resource Can you survive an asteroid impact?. I’ve got pretty good at creating solar cookers! You can add in extra learning and topic relevance by referencing space-related articles from Catalyst Magazine.
I recommend you give running a STEM Club a go, or expand what you currently do. You’ll enjoy it, and so will your students.
You can find out more about the STEM Clubs Programme and available support on our web pages.