Network: Arizona STEM Network

Purpose: The purpose of this guide is to provide users with a clear understanding of shared characteristics, attributes and benefits of STEM Clubs. Teachers and administrators can use the guide to support the process of setting up a STEM Club or improve an existing club. Potential funders and industry representative can use this guide to assess the viability of STEM Clubs and learn ways to support the efforts of these clubs. Finally, this guide will serve as a link to the Arizona STEM Club Network, which will provide a way to share information and resources with STEM Clubs around the state.

Usage: The guide is designed to be used differently by each educator or educational institution who uses it. Although we have worked with over 300 STEM Clubs in Arizona in using this guide, and have inquiries from educators in 20 other states, we do not have any documentation on if/how others have adapted it. The guide itself is designed to be used in different situations and so it does not need to be formally adapted to be used by different agencies. We, as an organization, have routinely worked with the other organizations who collaborated with us on this guide to update the material based upon feedback from those who have used it. In addition, during the Fall 2015 we convened a committee of teachers who had used the guide to help us to provide feedback and make modifications to make the guide more useful. We are also in the process of adding STEM Club lesson plans and additional resources for teachers.

Impacts: To date our STEM Club Guide has helped ignite or support over 300 STEM Clubs in Arizona. In addition, we have shared our guide with educators across the country, and have had direct inquiries from educators in at least 20 states interested in using our guide to begin/expand STEM clubs in their schools.

Prior research or grounding: We began this process, three years ago, defining STEM clubs as “any gathering of students that meets regularly in an informal environment to work on inquiry-based STEM related activities,” Science Foundation Arizona piloted STEM clubs in eleven schools. What we learned from these efforts was that there was an interest in STEM clubs across the state and that STEM clubs opened possibilities that other types of specialized clubs, such as full robotics clubs, did not. Unlike these specialized clubs, STEM clubs appealed to all grade levels, especially K-8, and they allowed teachers and students to adjust the level and focus of the club to meet student needs and interests. With this knowledge in hand, we set out to develop a STEM club model that could be replicated on a large scale. This led to the development of an inexpensive STEM club model, and an online STEM Club Guide, which not only provides schools with guidance on how to setup and support a STEM club, but also can connect these clubs to one another, allowing them to share resources, collaborate on projects, and provide each other support regardless of geographic limitations.

Contact: Linda Coyle, Science Foundation Arizona, (602) 682-2800, lcoyle@sfaz.org