STEM Clubs

The Cape Town Science Centre, in collaboration with the Western Cape Education Department, has earmarked STEM Clubs as a strategic extra-curricular support programme to promote STEM engagement, literacy and career development in the Western Cape.

For STEM Club support at the Cape Town Science Centre, please contact stemclubs@ctsc.org.za or 021 300 3200

THE ROLE OF STEM CLUBS
It is generally acknowledged that there is a need to improve learner’s STEM skills and knowledge in order for them to navigate their way through the world they live in and to successfully access the opportunities available to them (Afterschool Alliance, 2011).

The general downward trend of elective participation in STEM subjects by learners is a growing concern. While numerous STEM support programmes target what happens in the classroom, much of what shapes a learner’s attitude, confidence and interest in STEM subjects and fields is cultivated by their experiences outside of the classroom.

STEM Clubs, which develop aptitude and interest in STEM subjects and fields from an early age, and furthermore sustain their interest through the learner’s school career, increase the learner’s achievement and performance in STEM subjects. Chittum et al. found that with engagement in after school STEM Clubs, learners could be motivated in STEM subjects and that the experience had a positive impact on their perceptions about science as a field. (Chittum et al., International Journal of STEM Education (2017) 4:11).

STEM Clubs offer learners opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics in an informal setting, allowing them to experiment, to ask questions and experience challenges that interest them. STEM Club meetings are usually teacher-led but are driven by learners.

BENEFITS OF STEM CLUBS
School-based STEM Clubs provide opportunities for learners to explore STEM topics, providing exposure beyond the scope of the curriculum and encouraging a culture of lifelong learning. STEM clubs promote heuristic thinking, cultivate positive attitudes to STEM, help link abstract concepts learnt in class to the real-world and allow learners to be the authors of their own discoveries and learning, ultimately building their confidence and encouraging participation in competitions like Expos and Olympiads (and more).

Learners from both Primary and High schools benefit greatly from participation in STEM Clubs, improving the culture of STEM learning amongst participants which leads to other learners wanting to take up STEM subjects and in turn showcase their achievements in class.

STARTING YOUR SCHOOL’S STEM CLUB
GENERAL INFORMATION
1. STEM clubs can be run at both Primary Schools (Grade 4 – 7) and at High Schools, possibly at two levels, (Grades 8 – 9 and/or Grades 10 – 12).
2. There can be more than one STEM Club at a school – see point 8 below.
3. The size of a STEM Club should be manageable for teachers and to fit in the space chosen for the meetings.

HOW TO START YOUR STEM CLUB:
1. Get buy-in from the HOD’s and the Principal.
2. Work with at least one other Teacher all year.
3. Choose a meeting venue.
4. Announce the formation of the STEM Club in an open forum e.g. assembly.
5. Call the group of interested learners together to form the Club.
6. Survey these learners as to what their STEM interests are.
7. Determine the name for the STEM Club.
8. Register your club with the Cape Town Science Centre (CTSC)forms.gle/WodyMXZVpAvAGipB9
9. The STEM Club Team will then decide what time of day is best for holding the regular STEM Club meetings.
10.The STEM Club Team set up a broadcast-type of WhatsApp group for better communication.
11. The STEM Club Team will decide on and plan various activities to take place during meetings.

STEM CLUBS RESOURCES:
– Jumpstart Teacher Manual for STEM Clubs – Click to download
– STEM Club Posters – HIGH SCHOOL – Click to download (suggested printing size A1)
– STEM Club Posters – PRIMARY SCHOOL – Click to download (suggested printing size A1)
– STEM Clubs Career Posters – Click to download (can be printed in A3 or A4 size)
– STEM Clubs Calendar – Click to download
– Monthly Challenges 
● May – Primary School – BIOLOGY – Click to download
● May – Primary School – PHYSICS – Click to download
● May – High School – BIOLOGY – Click to download
● May – High School – PHYSICS – Click to download

NEWSLETTERS:
– Newsletter 1 (sent 13 May 2022) – Click to view

Links to 2022 STEM Club Competitions:
Eskom Expo for Young Scientists 
NRF/SAASTA Natural Science Olympiad 
NRF/SAASTA National Science Olympiad

Useful videos:
Choosing an Expo Project Topic – CTSC Expo Guide Presentation presented by MJ Schwartz, Cape Town Science Centre
– Cape Town Expo for Young Scientists – ALL Expo tutorial videos: Video Tutorials 

For STEM Club support at the Cape Town Science Centre, please contact stemclubs@ctsc.org.za or 021 300 3200