By Clare Schinzel
Omaha’s JuSTEMagine chapter boasts a wide range of STEAM programs: robotics, STEM Kits, and Virtual Girls in STEAM events. However, our neighbors to the north are pursuing similar ventures.
Up in Vancouver, students are participating in Vancouver's STEAM Nights. These are events where students and their families are able to gain hands-on experiences with STEAM activities. All of this is funded by Prairie STEM––a non-profit organization for kindergarten through high school that focuses on STEM learning.
Right now, all of the operations for Vancouver's STEAM Nights are online, but this creates a great opportunity for homeschoolers or those in hybrid learning due to the pandemic. It also allows collaboration between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Ontario science students.
Activities for these events include investigative projects, team-building exercises, and lab experiments.
According to Vancouver student Ria Sachdeva, high schoolers have been given the opportunity at these events to share STEAM activities with younger students––typically those in elementary school. Sachdeva expressed that her VEX Robotics team has done multiple presentations for elementary schoolers during the pandemic to allow them to witness authentic STEAM experiences. Additionally, they help the young students by deep-diving into the topics that they are learning in school all the way from mathematics to earth science.
Sachdeva also expressed the goal of Vancouver's STEAM Nights: “While we try to help all students find a love for STEM at a young age, we emphasize getting girls involved.” In the competitive work environment created by high expectations of educational standards, it can be easy to overlook the challenges and stereotypes that women face in the workforce. Vancouver's STEAM Nights help promote equality in STEAM careers and collaboration with all of your peers, regardless of gender.
Students partake in many activities: recording with green screens, drone operation, and robot building. With all of these entertaining activities, Sachdeva expressed, “I really liked when we did a mini-competition based on the robotics game that year. Also, of the elementary presentations, I enjoyed our density and lava lamp experiment.” At these STEAM Nights, collaboration through experimentation is encouraged to get everyone involved, regardless of gender or age.
To participate in Vancouver's STEAM Nights, different schools are contacted and presentations are designed for the specific students there. This adds to the authentic experience and encourages students to pursue STEM careers if they are presented with a topic that they have an interest in.
Just like in Omaha, there are plenty of students who are exploring careers in STEM up and across the border. The hope is that, eventually, these ideas will spread even further to expand collaboration in future activities and experiments all over the world.