From October 6th to November 24th, 2020, we ran our first virtual afterschool program, this one was only for alumni of our various academic and summer programs (hence the program name): we had 15 students in graded 6-9. Over the 8 weeks, we covered a variety of subjects, with the overarching theme of the program, “Putting the A in STEM”, i.e. STEAM, i.e. exploring the arts and creativity component of science and engineering. Each week we explored a different topic and students were given an (optional) challenge to complete until the next time we met. Below you will find an overview of our completed schedule.
- 10/6: Intro / Team-Building | Challenge: Mind Maps
Presentation Link. This first week was strictly a get to know you day, wherein we got to know each other a little better. For the challenge, students completed personal mind maps.
- 10/13: Puzzles | Challenge: Technical Drawings
Presentation Link. Week two was focused on puzzles, including visual and word puzzles to get the students thinking outside the box and creatively. We also tried out a Kahoot quiz. The challenge this week was to create technical drawings of things in their lives, i.e. front/top/side drawings. Some things look very different when viewed from just one perspective!
- 10/20: Orthographic Views | Challenge: TinkerCAD
Presentation Link. During week three we talked more about the week’s challenge, looking at projected views and doing an activity rebuilding 3D objects based on their orthographic views, using this neat tool published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The challenge this week was a bit more open; we asked students to play around in and create something in TinkerCAD, a free online CAD program.
- 10/27: CodeCombat Programming | Challenge: Scratch
Week 4 revolved around programming. In just the hour we had, there wasn’t enough time to really do a programming overview / teach the basics ourselves, so we used a fun, online platform focused on teaching programming: CodeCombat. Based on student feedback, the students really enjoyed this! For the weekly challenge, students did some programming in Scratch, a free, online, visual programming language that is very well supported. Try it out here.
- 11/3: Workflow Optimization | Challenge: Route Optimization
Presentation Link. Week 5 was focused on workflow optimization, which really meant learning about ways to make your work (on the computer) easier. We started with a pixel recreation challenge, which is built using conditional formatting in google sheets. After explaining how this works, we also did a quick demo and tutorial on macros (in excel and word). For the challenge, students were given a traveling salesman problem to attempt: finding the shortest path using google earth / google my maps.
- 11/10: IISE Ball Sorting | Challenge: Make Your Own
Presentation Link. Week 6 was taught by NU student group IISE, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. The students met three Industrial Engineering students and learned a little more about what IE entails. The students then tried their hand at a task meant to get them thinking about optimization: a ball sorting activity.
- 11/17: AIChE DIY Lava Lamps | Challenge: None
The second to last week was led by the NU chapter of AIChE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. During this lesson, students made and learned the science behind lava lamps, using standard household supplies.
- 11/24: NU Sound – Making Digital Music | Challenge: Make Your Own
In the final week of the program, NU Sound, the NU chapter of the Acoustical Society of America, had a very interesting presentation on and tutorial of making digital music, with the students then creating their own music using a free, online, digital audio workstation, BandLab.
Thank you to all students, parents, volunteers, STEMout, and CfSE staff for making this program possible!
Please be aware that the program is (sort of) continuing in the spring, as the STEM Afterschool program. This program will be open to the public. Unfortunately, it will not be available to alumni of our programs (as much of the content/activities they will already have done); however siblings of program alumni are welcome to join. The program will be for 6th-8th graders and start in January. For more information, check it out here.