Make Summer Memorable and Meaningful with STEM

By Justin Stokes

Summer is all about providing students a break from their curriculum to let them have fun and enjoy time away from their desks. That doesn’t mean that they have to stop learning altogether, though. Why not keep them engaged with activities they’ll love to keep their minds sharp?

Middle Tennessee is full of opportunities to teach little ones about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) throughout the summer. When kids spend time outside of the classroom experiencing the wonders of STEM, they learn to appreciate the subject matter even more.

The Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee helps keep away the phenomenon known as “summer learning loss,” which is known by educators to be a major performance factor being lower income youth and their peers.

“Being [involved] in all middle Tennessee Clubs, like Summer Brain Gain for youth ages five to 13, adds engaging, educational activities to the typical summer camp experience,” says Chief Development Officer Jennifer Wheeler of the Summer Brain Gain initiative.

Outside of camp, the Boys & Girls Club’s teen programs introduce attendees to a collegiate learning experience via a partnership with Tennessee State University (TSU). Teens go to TSU every day to enjoy special programming that will prep them for graduating high school and planning ahead. They also get to visit other regional college campuses like Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and Columbia State Community College.

Working in tandem with the Summer Brain Gain, field trips to key locations such as the Adventure Science Center promote “academic success, healthy lifestyles and good character and citizenship. Wheeler shares that the Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee is always looking for volunteers to help members with homework, mentoring, and other activities that help kids grow.

Columbia State Community College also hosts Engineering for Kids workshops, along with Harding Academy. Harding will workshops about MinecratfEdu, “Medieval Machinations” and electronic game design.

Make Nashville offers more innovative opportunities for students to continue their educations over the summer. The nonprofit organization celebrates tinkering with odds and ends and developing new ideas through the power of STEM knowledge. For the last five years, they’ve been giving members the tools and tidbits needed to build things like guitars, replicated sets from spaceships and other nerd must-haves.

Make Nashville‘s meetup page is full of events like weekly Monday Fabric Labs, Friday hangouts and open house nights at their makerspace. Later in July, they’ll host a community build night and a birthday event to celebrate the makerspace’s first anniversary.

For many Make Nashville members, the workshops are leading up to the next Nashville Mini Maker Faire event. Calls for makers are now open, and the event will be held at Vanderbilt University’s The Wond’ry on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1.

Vanderbilt is also involved in the ID Tech series of Summer Tech Camps. At this time of writing, slots were still open for some of their late July programs for topics like coding, robotics and game design and development.

Have any other suggestions for local kids and parents? Let us know!

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