The classroom isn’t the only place to explore science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). And that’s a good thing. Where would after-school activities like photography, gaming, stargazing parties, home music studio production, roller derby (check those wheels) and cooking ice-cream with hydrogen (molecular gastronomy) be without STEM to make them a beautiful reality?
What are STEM clubs, exactly?
They’re a club that takes place outside of lessons (often after school) and explores all kinds of areas of science, but with no big goal like passing exams in mind. Activities can include experiments, investigations, group chats and competitions to name a few. They can often be shaped by suggestions from you and other club members as well as by teachers or club leaders, so that the club works for everyone.
Club topics to explore cover anything from robotics and stargazing to Formula 1 aerodynamics, coding, crystal growing, film special effects and making your own 3D designs with Computer Aided Design (which is very useful for a whole range of careers, actually). You can see a full list of STEMNET co-ordinated STEM clubs here.
After school STEM clubs give you a chance to get away from textbooks and explore real science in action, with a focus on good times as well as learning (which is important. Your free time is precious, so you need to make the most of it.)
Why join a STEM club?
You’ll discover new interests. New ways to see the world. New skills like practical expertise, team work, research and leadership. New organisations and activities to put on your CV to impress people later in life (e.g. if you’re looking for a job or applying to a future course you’d love to do at uni or college). You’ll discover new competitions to enter (go team!).
Find out if your school has a STEM club. If not, why not speak to your teacher about setting one up?
Organisations providing support for after school STEM clubs
These organisations are all free to register and their resources are really helpful to any teachers or club leaders without engineering backgrounds, too. Take a look – then pass them onto your teacher:
STEM Clubs (co-ordinated by STEMNET)
These fine folk offer step-by-step guides to getting started, activity lists, a special zone for teachers and a whole lot more. Have a browse, and let your teacher know about it if they don’t already.
Young Engineers is a leading membership network for UK school students aged 7-19 who are interested in engineering and science. Membership helps you and your school in all kinds of ways including STEM club support, challenges and events. Oh, and they have a mentoring programme, too.
There are over 100 Imagineering clubs across the UK and they’re aimed at 8-16 year olds so what they do could be great for your little sister or brother too. Imagineering clubs are really hands-on (meaning you get to use your hands a lot) because they’re all about making working engineering models from kits. Yes, even hydraulic robot arms!
Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland
If you’re based in Scotland, YESC is a major source of inspiration and resources for young scientists and engineers – their network has more than 1,200 schools across Scotland. They can help with science clubs in both primary and secondary schools, with five neat short steps on how to start a science club.