Embrace Summer Learning Opportunities About STEM

With the school year ending, it does not mean that learning has to stop. During the summer, students and educators have extra time to relax and recharge, but it is also a good opportunity to take advantage of some learning experiences. Summer can be a great time to dive into some STEM learning, especially with having more time to get outside and explore! There are a lot of opportunities to dive into while outdoors that promote engaging, hands-on activities for students and teachers. It can be a great time to explore some maker projects, find ways to connect in the community and experience place-based learning, or participate in STEM camps or events that local organizations or schools may offer.  

With a reported 3.5 million jobs that will be available by 2025 requiring STEM skills, it is important to find opportunities that will help students to learn about the possibilities in these fields and develop the essential skills that are in demand.

Here are four ideas to consider for the summer that might just be a great way to start the next school year as well! Families can join in the learning too!


1. DIY STEM Projects

Getting involved in STEM learning in the summer does not require many materials at all. When students and educators engage in "do-it-yourself "(DIY) STEM projects, it helps to fuel creativity and excitement in learning. The possibilities for DIY STEM projects are limitless. There are books and resources available online to explore. Dr. Jacie Maslyk shares many ideas in her blogs and books for STEM-focused learning. The benefits are that it gives students the chance to consider different materials and problem-solve or create a design. DIY activities are great for encouraging students to perhaps come up with a solution to a local or global challenge and see the impact they can make when they develop their STEM skills! Projects like this will not only foster a sense of accomplishment but will encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation. Students can shift from simply being the consumers, to becoming the creators and innovators!


2. Place-Based Learning

With additional time in the summer, or even finding time throughout the year, connecting students with opportunities for real-world learning in their community is essential. By volunteering or participating in place-based learning, students can connect with community members who are working in STEM careers, for example. These collaborations enable students to apply their knowledge in practical, real-world settings. Whether it's working in a community organization that is focused on nature preservation, assisting with projects in the community, or taking advantage of internships and mentorship programs, students can get a glimpse into the professional world and build self-awareness of their interests in learning and future careers. We want our students to develop their global awareness and learn about the challenges being faced in the world and then come up with solutions. Connecting with the community and engaging in place-based learning provides more authentic and real-world learning for students that will promote student engagement and be more meaningful for them.


3. STEM Camps

STEM camps have become increasingly popular and offer a variety of ways for students to immerse themselves in a supportive and interactive learning environment. Camps are also beneficial for SEL as students can learn about themselves, about others, and work through challenges while sparking some curiosity for STEM learning. Lobee Learning offers a variety of resources for educators and families to bring STEM learning to students throughout the year and also with their STEM camp-focused activities. Check out their upcoming virtual STEM camp for July and also check out the online resources for STEM learning.

Look to your community, local schools, and other organizations that may be offering STEM camps for students. Last summer, there was an event offered within my school community for students to spend four days at a camp, learning about AI, AR, and VR and working together. Students were given time to explore topics of interest and the result was they learned about the endless possibilities that STEM fields have to offer as well as the increasing need for people with STEM skills. Opportunities such as camps or even one-day events will not only help students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but hopefully foster an interest in and love for STEM learning.


4. Virtual Programs and Online Courses

There are so many tools available online for students to explore at their pace and to find a topic of interest. With a full curriculum on topics like Computer Science from Defined Learning, students can explore at their own pace and find out what they are interested in. Diving into programs to learn about coding and robotics, for example, offers a lot of great benefits for students. Students can learn about programming languages, create their own software or build robots or chatbots even. With the resources available, students will develop computational thinking and problem-solving skills while also having the opportunity to boost their creativity.

Online courses and virtual programs provide flexibility, which enables students to learn at their own pace and explore topics of interest. Many of the programs and tools available offer interactive simulations, video tutorials, sample activities, and more, which help to engage students more in learning. Some sites such as Code.org, MIT, AIClub, Scratch, and Tynker provide interactive coding tutorials and projects suitable for beginners. I recommend exploring Minecraft Education and Hacking STEM to give even more choices. Code with Google is focused on closing equity gaps in computer science opportunities and offers free resources for students. For older students and educators looking for courses and more activities, websites like Khan Academy and Udemy have courses covering various STEM topics, allowing students to learn at their own pace and explore their interests.


Just because it is summer doesn't mean that the learning has to end, it just means that we can shift to different opportunities for learning. Summer learning opportunities for STEM can offer students a transformative learning experience that will spark their curiosity for learning and cultivate STEM-focused careers. These opportunities not only enhance academic skills but also equip students with essential 21st-century competencies, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and adaptability.





About the Author:

Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth is a World Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, Speaker, and the author of nine books about education and edtech. Follow her on TwitterInstagram, and connect on LinkedIn.


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