By: Monica Post, STEM Coordinator
Touching a bison, exploring the prairie, geocaching for treasure, wading cool streams, these are just a few of the STEM experiences that Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa members are enjoying this summer.
What better way to spark an interest in a STEM career than being immersed in it?
So far this summer, Club members have had speakers from Polk County Conservation come and allow us to catch and touch some incredible insects. A speaker from the Science Center and our state’s very own big tree expert, showed us a tree….mendous variety of native and exotic trees right here in the middle of Des Moines.
We had speakers from the National Weather Service tell us about being a meteorologist, and many of our members completed their Storm Spotter certification.
After learning about safari wildlife, we went on our own local safari to the Blank Park Zoo where members identified Dakota, Hannah, Duke, Raza, Skye and Jakobi (giraffe and zebra) …just by their markings.
We traveled to one of Iowa’s most exciting state parks, waded in the cool streams and investigated one of our largest invertebrate’s up close.
The data regarding summer learning loss is overwhelming (1), and so is the data regarding the benefits of getting children out into nature. (2) Every day, Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa is working to enrich our members’ lives now and inspire their future.
These are just a few of the STEM activities that we have been doing here at BGCCI and the start of many more to come.
1: How Boys & Girls Clubs “STEM” the Tide of Summer Learning Loss, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Review of Educational Research: “most youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income youth also lose more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-class peers make slight gains.”
2015 study conducted by Metis Associates found that Boys & Girls Club programs like Summer Brain Gain not only halt summer learning loss but also lead to gains in math and reading for many young people! And on top of the academic boost, Clubs ignite new passions for youth.
2: How to Protect Kids from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv Greater Good Magazine
Programs that infuse education with direct experience, especially in nature, have the greatest impact. Immersive, interactive nature-based activities can help kids learn to have confidence in themselves and power to make independent decisions.
Experiences in the natural world appear to offer great benefits to psychological and physical health and the ability to learn, for children and adults. Time in nature can help many children learn to build confidence in themselves, calm themselves, and focus.