This week we had the pleasure of sitting down with two of our students, Josh and Aidan, who have been with STEM Minds since the very beginning!
Both Josh and Aidan have grown so much since they started coming to STEM Minds several years ago and it has been awesome to see. Aidan has even begun volunteering with us at our camps! It is always a pleasure having them here with us and seeing them become fearless leaders. Keep reading to hear some of their thoughts on school and STEM! Scroll to the bottom to learn how parents and teachers can provide STEM learning to students this fall.
Just to give a little bit of context for everyone, how old are you both?
Josh: I am 12, going into grade 7.
Aidan: I am 14 and I am going into grade 9.
So, you have been coming to STEM Minds for a long time, did you ask your family to sign up? Did you have any expectations coming in?
Aidan: I asked to sign up because it seemed really exciting. I really didn’t have any expectations coming in because it was my first time doing something like that. I didn’t really know what STEM meant, I just sort of thought robotics and stuff sounded cool and I wanted to do it.
Josh: We’ve been coming to STEM Minds since I think the first time they opened. We had asked to come because a teacher at my school was talking about some of these kinds of things and all of it sounded like a lot of fun. When we first came I thought it was really fun and we did a lot of cool stuff, I literally had no expectations coming in but I ended up really liking 3D printing at the time.
What has been your favourite part about STEM Minds?
Josh: Probably the people, all of the staff are so nice so I like coming here.
Aidan: I like that I get to learn new things all of the time, which is fun.
You both have probably done nearly everything we offer here so far at least once, do you have a favourite topic?
Josh: The very first time that I did movie making and stop motion I had so much fun and made a good friend, so I loved that a lot. It is still one of my favourite things to do when I am here.
Aidan: I think my favourite would be 3D modelling, I have always found that pretty interesting.
Are there any topics you are looking forward to?
Josh: I am really looking forward to eSports because I haven’t had a chance to do it yet. I really didn’t know that you guys had started it until I came to camp this summer. So when things start to open up more and programs come back I really want to do that!
Aidan: Also eSports for me, I play online with friends sometimes but nothing like eSports, so it seems really cool.
Tell me about STEM at school, what kind of STEM activities do you do there? Are Science and Math class hands-on?
Josh: STEM Minds has actually come to my school and done some stuff with different classes so that was cool. We don’t really do much of this kind of stuff at school though. Science class for me hasn’t been much hands-on, mostly book stuff. I have done some more hands-on stuff in other grades which I really liked.
But this year we did go on a few field trips which was so awesome. We did this “mission to the moon” thing at the Science Centre and that was a lot of fun. We prepared a lot for it in advance and were learning about latitude and longitude and things like that, but basically we got to go into this room that was set up like a spaceship or something and we had to solve all of these puzzles and do different tasks. At one point there were alarms going off and it was so crazy, we all had a lot of fun doing that.
As far as Math class, it’s pretty good but it is mostly just bookwork. We don’t do hands on stuff very often, we do most of the work in our heads. I think a lot of people I know in my class don’t really like that so much, I think a lot of people don’t like Science, especially. But if we got to do some of that hands on stuff then I bet people may like it more. We once got to do some stuff with electronics and wires and alarms and stuff and everybody really liked that.
Aidan: In my class in Science sometimes we have done some labs, but it is mostly textbook work too. There aren’t any clubs or anything that does STEM stuff like we’ve done at STEM minds. I have never done any type of coding or anything outside of STEM Minds but I think if other kids in my class got to try that they would really like it.
And what do you think about those STEM options at your school?
Josh: They’re ok. I wish there was a bit more. Most of the STEM type of stuff mostly happens in Science class. Otherwise there isn’t really much of that in school for me so far.
Aidan: I wish we could do more hands-on stuff, I think there are lots of people who I go to school with who haven’t ever gotten to try STEM. But I think if they were given the opportunity, then they would actually really like it and would want to keep doing more.
Thanks so much to Aidan and Josh for chatting with me about STEM at school! I think they both had some interesting insights into what students’ perspectives are of school and what STEM experiences are available. Both expressed that when they get hands-on opportunities, they and their classmates really enjoy their learning! However, both boys also described that they didn’t really get those hands-on learning opportunities very often, despite people enjoying them so much.
This is important for us as teachers to keep in mind that those authentic hands-on learning opportunities are so important to our students! And for parents it is also important to see what ways you are able to support your child’s learning and perhaps seek out ways for them to have some of those opportunities outside of school. Or even better, advocating for more STEM opportunities in our schools so that all students are able to have these amazing experiences!
With so much uncertainty surrounding schools in the fall, parents and teachers will need to be creative in order to provide these hands-on opportunities for students.
For parents, check out our virtual program offerings.
For teachers, keep an eye out for our professional development webinars for a variety of topics or purchase a coding unit plan to help you introduce coding to your students (even if you have no experience!). The unit plans are directly connected to the new Ontario Math curriculum, which now includes coding (hooray!!).