Learning Rooms STEM Club – Prepare for launch!
Since 2014, the STEM Ambassador team at Gratnells Learning Rooms have been working with teachers, technicians, schools and community groups to create, develop and share practical activities covering a wide range of curriculum subjects. Under the ‘What’s in my tray?’ umbrella, a large and growing collection of activities now exists to enhance the delivery of the curriculum and support extra-curricular and after-school clubs. For the last two years, Dr Katherine Forsey, Gratnells STEM Ambassador, has been running a weekly community STEM Club, making use of the What’s in my tray? and Learning Rooms LEGO Club activities and sharing them with families. Using everything we have learned, Gratnells Learning Rooms has created Learning Rooms STEM Club to help more school and community groups develop their participant’s STEM skills through hands-on activities and challenges.
From September 2021, Learning Rooms STEM Club will provide free access to over 40 of our ready-made, tried and tested, STEM Club activities arranged in six in half-term activity packages. Each activity has step-by-step instructions, an equipment list and photographs, making it as easy as possible for STEM Club leaders to dive right in. We have taken a predominantly low-tech approach, using equipment that is readily available in schools and a lot of recycled or repurposed items, to ensure activities are as accessible as possible. You can follow along with the half-term blocks, completing a new activity each week, or cherry pick the activities you want to do from the entire year’s collection. Many of the activities are suitable for developing into longer-term projects if desired. STEM Club leaders and participants are free to access the entire Learning Rooms STEM Club activities collection at any time.
To help you launch and grow your own STEM Club, we’ve put together our top tips for running a successful STEM Club.
Take a look at the Learning Rooms STEM Club activity packages and decide if you’re going to use them as they are, or cherry pick a selection. If your STEM Club is already up and running, ask participants to pick which activities they’d like to do to help increase ownership and engagement.
Draw up a list of useful recycled and repurposed items using the equipment lists provided with each activity. Ask your school and local communities to help, from empty plastic bottles and bottle tops to yogurt pots, wine bottle corks and cardboard boxes, it doesn’t take long to build up an impressive collection. Just be sure to ask collectors to ensure everything is thoroughly cleaned before they donate it. Find out if your area as a community recycling hub where you can pick up items in bulk.
Recruit enthusiastic participants
Decide on your audience and recruit through school or community newsletters, flyers in registers, posters on notice boards and posts on social media. Share our photographs or videos of the activities on offer to encourage people to get involved. Once you have a few members, get them involved with recruiting others by sharing what they have been up to.
We store all our STEM Club resources in dedicated Gratnells trays and trolleys, the MakerHub and MakerSpace Trolleys are perfect for this and help us keep everything organised, easy to access and quick to tidy away.
Celebrate and showcase
Showcase participant’s creations at open days and assemblies, have a dedicated display cabinet in a high footfall location to house a selection of your creations. Celebrate participation and share achievements via photographs or videos on the school website, in newsletters and social media – let people see what you are up to and be sure to include how they can get involved.
Get others involved
Other staff may be happy to help on a rota and community volunteers may be willing to come in one hour a week. Older students could run the sessions, developing leadership skills, and often enjoy the chance to work with younger students. Local companies and STEM Ambassadors may be willing to support you with time or resources. Get the senior leadership team involved to ensure your club achieves the high profile it deserves.
Look for opportunities
Seek out competitions you could enter or grants you could apply for, check out the national STEM Clubs website at https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-clubs for details of partner activities you could get involved with.
Follow your participants and your own interests, enthusiasm comes from doing things you enjoy and will help maintain momentum and engagement throughout the year.
The full year of Learning Rooms STEM Club activities is available to browse and download free from https://gratnellslearningrooms.com/learning-rooms-stem-club/ along with our half-termly collections and Learning Rooms STEM Club Challenge Cards. We look forward to seeing what you get up to via #LRSTEMclub.