How a Bright House Microgrant Brought STEM to Lights On Afterschool
Amber, a staff member at our Ocoee Middle School After School Zone, was recently featured as a guest blogger for Afterschool Alliance. Read her full story below and check out the original version on Afterschool Snack.
Thanks to a partnership between Bright House Networks and the Afterschool Alliance, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s After School Zone had the opportunity to coordinate a Lights On Afterschool STEM Experience. Members from eight of our 14 After School Zone sites participated in this hands-on, interactive, educational experience facilitated by the Orlando Science Center. This program was not only informative and engaging, but was fun for our participants as well.
The 90-minute Photonics and Optics Laser Lab enabled participants to use the engineering design process to design and build a laser path that hits targets with the use of mirrors and prisms. Students had to use problem solving, teamwork, and their newfound knowledge of lasers to find the shortest path possible for the laser beams. This trial, error and adjust approach served as a great learning tool for students to apply in their academic environments.
Throughout the lab, kids were actively participating, engaged in conversation and using each other’s input to determine the most effective placement of the laser. This experience served as a way for members to bond through education and build relationships with each other. In addition to learning about lasers, members worked on their communication skills, including respectful collaboration and compromise.
STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is currently at the forefront of education. With new technology developing every day, it’s important to teach the many elements of STEM in a way that excites students and prepares them for the future. These interactive labs allow students to see complex concepts and practice them at their simplest form, in a way that makes practical sense.
Following the completion of the lab, participants were able to discuss how they could use this lesson and apply it to real-word career choices. Some participants even researched colleges where they could acquire science and engineering degrees. The experience from these activities will have a lasting impact on our members and their educational lives. They have been inspired by this program’s fun and interactive lesson, and they are truly grateful for the experience.