STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s lead researchers, Linda Kekelis and Kara Sammet, muse on some of the ah-ha moments and key take-aways from The Family Engagement Project.
Imagine if family engagement was deeply tapped into during Hour of Code™ and Computer Science Education Week. Family Code Night was developed by Executive Director, John Pearce, to include parents in sustaining children’s learning and passion for computer science. Pearce shares, “To truly overcome the digital divide we must do so in the K-5 years and in this effort we must engage the most powerful influence of K-5 children’s self-belief: parents and family.”
Public libraries have a unique opportunity to expand the reach of STEM. “Public libraries provide a ‘third space’ beyond the formal classroom and home that can unite schools and communities around STEM education and complete the community’s STEM learning ecosystem.”1 What’s more, public libraries are accessible and trusted spaces in the community; these elements help to increase access for youth and parents who are underserved and underrepresented in STEM. In celebration of National Library Week April 8-14, we showcase one library that expanded its mission with a new program to support families and help close the opportunity gap in STEM.
Can we reimagine family engagement? If we did, how might more families benefit and how might impact be longer-lasting? How can we make it more possible for parents to engage where and when they can? Here we detail three ideas from organizations that don’t ask families to come to programs, but instead support family engagement at home.
Good fiction with STEM topics can do more than provide information about the world of science and technology. They can get kids excited about the fun of science and engineering as they learn about the struggles and triumphs of fascinating characters in amazing situations. In this post you will be introduced to a interesting titles, mostly starring middle school students from a variety of racial, ethnic, and economically challenging backgrounds, including several with disabilities, who serve as inspiring role models.
Sharing a few chapter book gems with parents and caregivers can be a brief but highly productive part of a family night at a school, or open house at a library.
February 21, 2019 was Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. This special day during National Engineers Week helps girls understand they have a place in engineering a better world. Engineers Week raises awareness of engineers’ contributions to our quality of life and increases interest in engineering careers. In her blog, Dr. Kekelis shares a list of five ideas to spark inspiration and empower parents to Introduce Their Girl to Engineering Day and the days and weeks after.
Bringing science-themed workshops to families in rural Appalachia, giving students and families in a summer meal program a chance to build robots, and letting parents see their children apply early math skills to everyday life are a few examples of how public libraries are making STEM learning experiences more accessible to families.
Global Family Research Project highlights public libraries and their critical role in supporting student’s learning and interest in STEM in their new policy brief, “Public Libraries Engage Families in STEM.” This blog features key themes that emerged from examples compiled in the brief.
What do libraries have to do with STEM? These days, plenty. You can find preschoolers and their caregivers engaging in hands-on science and math activities, girls and mothers tinkering with tools and technology, and families learning to code at summer lunch programs all at their local public library. These experiences spark new interests in kids, build confidence in parents, and can even have lasting impact on career interests.
What makes these library programs so important is how they help reduce the opportunity gap in STEM. While not every community has a science center, tech museum, or zoo, just about every town has a library that offers books along with access to computers and STEM programs for families. Libraries bring resources and fuel dreams that help reach underserved and underrepresented people and regions.
STEM Next wants all families to have access to quality STEM programs. This blog highlights four strategies to help inspire and deepen engagement with families at libraries.
Summer can offer time to explore new subjects and go deep into personal interests. Summer can also increase the opportunity gap. We know that kids from under-resourced communities may fall behind in academics, while kids in higher-income families increase skills over the summer months. It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s research that shows elementary school kids with high levels of attendance in voluntary summer programs experience benefits in math and reading.
STEM Next appreciates the importance of supporting families and summer learning. In this blog, Dr. Kekelis shares six ideas to empower families and make 2019 the summer of STEM.