Our Project Learn STEAM after school program and Summer Blast programs are different from many.
Our Club is unique in our region in that our focus is primarily in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), along with programs in health, nutrition, community service, entrepreneurship, and of course, recreation and sports. The Club provides youth an opportunity for hands-on activities to explore STEAM where they may not have the opportunity during the school day. Also, through community events such as our annual Central MA Science Festival, we are able to reach beyond our members and share our focus with the entire region.
STEAM After School
Our goal has been to provide our members with hands-on activities to explore STEAM where they may not have the opportunity during the school day. We not only serve our members, but also outreach to youth serving organizations and offer programming and/or collaborative efforts to produce the following in the youth we serve:
- Active participation in STEAM learning opportunities, including robotics, immersion science, natural science, beekeeping, programming, and more.
- Curiosity about STEAM topics, concepts, and practices, and the ability to interact and meet with engineers and professionals who can answer their questions
- Exploring STEAM through personal investigation and experimentation
- Learning about different careers in STEAM fields
- Ability to apply STEAM skills in everyday life and eventually, a career
- Understanding the value of STEAM in society
Our Club has been nationally recognized for its STEAM programming, and we are certain that our Club is an asset to the public schools. We provide youth an extra opportunity to practice and reinforce the skills and concepts they learn during the school day.
Variety of Programs
We feel it is important to offer a variety of programs that represent the many facets of STEAM, and different ways it can be applied to activities our members are involved in every day. In addition to individual clubs and programs, such as Dangerous Science, Science for Girls, Aviation, Kids Capture Their Universe, SMART Girls, and Design Squad, we offer STEAM focused programs in robotics, sports, nature, and computer science.
We also see computer science as a vital part of STEAM, and a skill that is increasing in value as the world becomes more technology-driven. In fact, it is currently at the forefront of the nation’s educational focus. As a result, we have partnered with several local and national organizations to provide learning opportunities to our youth. Not only are educational programs like MIT’s Scratch software and basic Java and gaming coding classes available to our members, but each year the BGCFL participates in the Hour of Code initiative. Hour of Code is a global event designed to give students hands-on experience in coding and programming.
Some of our youth prefer the engineering facet of STEAM, which is where robotics come in. We are one of few Clubs in the region to have robotics teams, both for middle and junior high students as well as a separate team for high school students, as well as offering programs in NAO humanoid robotics.
The younger members participate in FIRST Lego League, where the team uses Lego robotics systems to create and program a robot to complete a set of tasks given at the beginning of the season, while also writing and presenting a research project that ties in with the year’s theme. Many of our members love FLL, and we have several teams a year competing in regional and state competitions. We even host our own regional qualifying tournament with teams from the surrounding area at the Club!
High school members have the opportunity to join our FIRST Robotics Competition team, in which participants have six short weeks to design, build, test, and ship a full sized robot to complete the challenges issued at the start of the season. The robots can be up to six feet tall and weigh up to 120lbs, and compete on a field with 5 other robots from local and regional teams during competition season. Our FRC team frequents a regional tournament, as well as several off-season competitions, including one at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Natural science is another major focus of our Club. We make the most of our location on the Doyle Conservation Center land to take many nature walks, let our members examine their findings under microscopes, tap maple trees to see the process of making maple syrup, teach the basics of gardening as well as the science behind it, and let our teen members learn about beekeeping through hands-on experience. Additionally, we focus on embryology each year by giving our members the opportunity to help hatch chickens, which we keep in a coop on-site, and Atlantic Trout, which are released into the wild when they are large enough.
For our athletic members, we offer Science of Sports, a competition that involves hypothesizing and designing a solution to problems found in sports. The team participates in the Science of Sports fair, which is sponsored by the New England Patriots. BGCFL teams in the past have done very well, winning scholarships and getting to meet Robert Kraft and several Patriots while showing their project.
Making the Most of STEAM Partnerships
We are fortunate enough to be located near Boston, as well as several widely-known organizations and universities to bring STEAM professionals and their expertise to the Club. Over the years, we have worked to establish partnerships and allow our members to engage with professionals from:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Harvard University
- FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
- Fitchburg State University
- Mount Wachusett Community College
- Doyle Conservation Center