STEM, What To Do When You Don’t Offer It?!

My current school is phenomenal. We do a really great job of teaching to the whole child and making sure the over arching needs of students are met, and met comprehensively. However, there is one glaringly obvious hole that we are all aware of and working on at present, and that is a lack of STEM focus in the upper school. Our lower school and even the middle school does a nice job of implementing STEM focus and strategies into curriculum but as the child moves up in education, the rigor of the content obviously increases therefore reducing the time available to focus on things that aren’t directly related to content. So, I have been brainstorming and wondering what might be a good temporary fix until we are ready to implement something more permanent and here is what I came up with. A proposal for a STEM Research club for interested students. That being said, I don’t think the only demographic that I want to hit are the “interested” students, in fact, the ones I want to approach the most are the ones that seemingly don’t care about about science or math at all.

Here is my club proposal for the Administration:

STEM Science Research Club 

The purpose of the STEM Science Research Club is to give students an opportunity to actually experience science without reading it from a book or performing prescribed labs as is often the case when time and curricular scope are factors.

The STEM club will give the students the opportunity to develop their own interests and then design experiments around those interests. The majority of students do not have this opportunity prior to an upper college level science class and it is my belief that the more experience students have with actual research, the broader their interests in the science field will be.

My goal would be to expose the students to the many disciplines of science through lab experience and have them begin to develop their own questions that they want to address through research. Some possible exploratory labs include:

  • DNA extraction from human epithelial cells
  • DNA fragmentation with Restriction Enzymes
  • Gel electrophoresis
  • Commensal bacterial isolation and growth
  • Bacterial identification through the gram – staining process
  • Antibiotic exposure and resistance of bacteria
  • Microbial water purification
  • Use of the 3D printer
  • Manipulation and creation of robots
  • Basic coding practices
  • Circuits

I would also like to get the students involved in some working labs at MCV and VCU to give them an opportunity to see how a college lab functions. As well as have the students spend time with research scientists to talk about their areas of study and the processes of grant writing and funding solidification.

A long term goal of this club would be for the students to participate in the INTEL ISEF (International Science & Engineering Fair) which is the largest pre-college level science research platform for students to share their data with science professionals.

If, after reading through this post, you see any glaring absences of components that make up a really great science club, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. All suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

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