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Do You Want to Host Your First Successful Family STEM Night?

Our Family STEM Night Experience

Hosting a Family STEM Night is a worthwhile adventure!  It’s a great way to introduce families to the concepts of STEM.  In our experiences families were asking for more challenges!

Having a short term committee is a good way to get started.  Each person found two easy STEM activities for elementary grades before the meeting.  During the meeting, each member presented their ideas.  Then we decided which activities would best meet our school’s needs.

We agreed to host two family STEM nights.  We had a k-2 night and a 3-4 night.  Consequently, families with multiple children had a better chance of spending one-on-one time with their children.

Using the same activities for both nights made it easier to manage.  We had two sessions of each event with five minutes between sessions.

Easy STEM Activities for Elementary grades

Let me share with you some things that worked well when we organized STEM Night at our school.  Pinterest is a great way to search for easy STEM Activities for elementary grades.  So is the blog STEM Activities for Kids.  Many ideas use materials that are easy to gather.  Some activities require a specific number of pennies, marshmallows, etc.  To save time, ask students to count and bag the correct number of each material.  Doing this during class with students that are learning to count or group is a possibility. Early finishers enjoy this.  Students will readily give up their recess to come and help as well.

Invitations to Families

After you have selected the activities for your Family STEM Night and selected the date, it is time to compose and send a letter to invite families to the event!   You can see that we have decided to call it a Family STEAM Night.  We did this so that the art, music, and physical education teachers could participate.  This is what our letter looked like.  You will want to change it to reflect the activities that you have chosen.

family-STEM-Night-letter
                            Example of a Family STEM Night Letter to Parents

Other Family STEM Night Considerations

To have a fun, successful Family STEM Night, there are some other things to consider.

How many sessions of each activity will you have?

We had two sessions, but you may want to have three.

Where are the supplies for Family STEM Night coming from?

Your school will probably already have some of the supplies you need.

Ask students to bring in things from home (newspapers, empty cans, toilet paper rolls, plastic grocery bags, etc.).  Place labeled boxes in the front hall of the school is a way to collect things efficiently, and take the burden off the classroom teachers.

Also, some materials will need to be purchased.  Who will do that, and how will those supplies be funded?

How many families should be at each activity?

We found that 8 families at each activity worked well.  Sometimes both parents were with a child.  Siblings also attended.  Generally, this meant that there were around 20 people at each challenge.

How will people know where to go on Family STEM Night?

Make signs for each activity.  These signs should have the name of the STEM challenge, the room number, and the names of the families that will participate in each place.

Encouraging Interactions

Have blank nametags at the first challenge.  Participants can write their names on them and wear them for the rest of the evening.

Who will monitor each STEM activity?

One person is needed to be in charge of each activity (in our case, it was a committee member).  This person gives directions, facilitates, and watches the time.  They also give a five-minute warning in case challenges need to be measured etc.  This also allows for clean-up.  While a second set of hands to help out is good for personal relations, it isn’t necessary.

Have one person announce the time to switch challenges over the loudspeaker.  Our principal did this and then went from room to room during the event.  She also took pictures.

 

Family STEM Night Checklist

A checklist is essential.  It keeps you focused and makes it easy to assign tasks.

Click here to download the checklist.

Give Family STEM Night a Try!

As a result of our Family STEM Night, family members had a much better understanding of what their children were talking about when they initiated conversations about STEM at home.  They could see why their children were so excited about STEM!   If you are looking for some premade signs and activities click on the image below.

Have a “stem” tastic time!

 

 

Sarah

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