Last September, we shared photos of the Lab’s first activity – wildlife sciences. They had just started out – a couple cub scout leaders with initiative – and launched the first STEM Lab in their district!
My name is Dr. Renee Washow, I am the Lab Manager for Lab 314. I run the Lab with David Lieu, a Chemist. We did little to no advertising this year because the Leadership team wanted to learn about the program and get a grasp on how to run it. We started with 5 Scouts. Through word of mouth and some people searching the web, we ended up with 16 Scouts; 6 of whom were not active in BSA before STEM Scouts.
I can only speak from my Lab’s experience but the kids have had a great experience. They have enjoyed the hands-on activities and have been able to learn a good deal about research design, how to run an experiment, and how to continue trying different approaches when one approach fails. They are learning about STEM but they are also learning valuable lessons in education and life, that you can make a mistake or fail but pick yourself up, try again, and succeed.
One of the things I love most about STEM Scouts is that it approaches STEM differently than other programs. The modules include far more than the traditional STEM classes, like robotics and coding, but dive into the science behind archeology and eco systems. They explore topics like chemistry in a fun away, through bubbles, and aerodynamics with a ton of different experiments. The kids favorite activity so far has been building the water filtration system in the Engineering module. They had a chance to experiment and talk through why different layers were not working or why they were working more slowly. Kids were comparing someone else’s super thick, mud mixture to their messy but not thick leaf and dirt mixture. They could see how the systems worked or didn’t work based on the changes they were making.
This is a program with huge potential. STEM Scouts is a great option because it is more cost effective for many parents than traditional STEM activities. It is also interesting because it covers a variety of STEM fields and not just one. If we can attract 6 kids who have never participated in BSA activities before without any type of advertising, imagine what we can do with some real effort.