The YMCA STEAM Club Program

Jan. 23, 2023 |  Categories:  STEAM  

STEAM Club is a program I've developed for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago with generous support and funding from the CME Group. It is the latest addition to my programming focused on middleschool and highschool-aged students for the purpose of introducing them to being creative and solving problems using STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts. Units covered in this program include computer-aided design and 3D printing, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer programming, vinyl cutting, and electronics.

STEAM Club will run in multiple 8 week cohorts between the months of October 2022 and May 2023 at several YMCA centers and partner organizations simultaneously. Each cohort is designed to be accessible to complete beginners while also letting students that enroll in multiple cohorts furthering their skills and comprehension each time they attend. The way that I am doing this is by making the primary purpose of each cohort to allow students time and freedom to complete open-ended projects within different overarching topics, such as Game Design, Engineering Challenges, Art, and Entrepreneurship. 

I have also developed a method of tracking student skill growth over the course of multiple cohorts using a Project Grid, which is a spreadsheet that hosts lists of sequentially more complex projects arranged from White (introductory) to Black (mastery) within each of the units that I plan on covering in STEAM Club. We will be keeping track of student Belt Level, or the level of project they are able to complete, and will give them time every few weeks to Belt Test, or time for them to try and complete their next project.

Using a combination of Belt Level, project completion, and both parent and student survey data, we will be evaluating how well this program introduces students to science, technology, engineering, art, and math tools and concepts, and inspires them to continue on and learn more