What is a STEM club?
STEM clubs include any extra-curricular programs in science and technology, including science clubs, robotics clubs, young engineers, coding clubs, and citizen science programs. They are informal, social learning zones where children explore STEM topics through inquiry-based, participant-led learning designed to foster and capitalise on personal interests.
Characteristics of STEM clubs
- They connect children with local challenges, local expertise and real-world problems.
- They aim to foster enterprise skills (such as problem-solving, creativity and teamwork) and the students’ belief in their own ability to use STEM practices.
- They don’t aim to teach children specific knowledge or link to the school curriculum.
- They use hands-on, project-based investigation.
- They are fun, inspiring and have a strong social element including working in teams.
How STEM clubs run
As informal learning spaces, STEM clubs function differently than traditional learning environments like the classroom.
STEM clubs are usually facilitated rather than taught, and the facilitator does not require any expert knowledge to run the clubs – local experts can be brought in where needed.
They are embedded in the community, particularly in the network of families in the area, involving a cross-generation pipeline of inquiry and fun and using parental expertise wherever possible.
STEM clubs do not require any particular set of resources or fancy technology. Clubs can be run very cheaply with materials available to anyone, or can use local resources where they do exist.
Equity and inclusion
STEM clubs have a basic intention of giving everyone access to STEM and so there is a strong focus on inclusion, equity and gender and cultural diversity as well as supporting children with different mental and physical abilities.
Examples of STEM Clubs
There are already some dedicated STEM Club programs operating in Queensland. These include:
Many providers offer one-off workshops, kits and holiday activities for students interested in STEM. For a more comprehensive list of STEM programs in education, visit the STAR Portal. Key providers in Queensland include:
Creating a successful STEM clubs
Along with the basic principles, there are other elements that can help to make a STEM Club successful:
- Have a clear understanding of the age range and focus of that club and provide materials appropriate to that age range, e.g. early years, primary school or high school.
- Make sure the club cost-effective with a sustainable funding/business model.
- Embed evaluation in your club management process and regularly self-assess the effectiveness of your club.
- Consider using volunteer assistants from local high schools or universities.
- Make use of on and off site locations. Capitalise on local industry, museums, science institutes, TAFE, and universities, whenever possible.
- Share knowledge, resources, materials. Build your network of STEM club practitioners and connect in person or online with other clubs.
Our STEM Club Toolkit provides advice on creating and maintaining a sustainable STEM club.