STEAM Resources

We are under construction! Thanks for your patience while we add more resources to help expand STEAM learning in APS.

Looking for ways to get kids excited about hands-on, challenge-based, STEAM learning? Check out these resources.

Please note our “hero” suggestions marked with a “” who provide free programs, scholarships or have a sliding free scale, to ensure access to these opportunities.

Also, some of our suggestions are marked with a “,” because they offer classes just for girls and are committed to helping close the gender gap for women in tech fields.

Join a STEAM Team!

More details coming soon!

Odyssey of the Mind:

Odyssey of the Mind is an international problem-solving competition, based on the premise that creativity is a skill that can (and should!) be taught. Teams of 5-7 kids (and ideally at least two parent/teachers coaches) form in September/October, and then work for 4-5 months to solve a problem. Solutions require the creation of an 8-minute play — with costumes, script, and props — as well as conquering a variety of engineering challenges, such as building vehicles, inventing machines, and engineering complicated set pieces, and more.

Students learn creative thinking, teamwork, and project management skills, and also practice strategies to solve impromptu “Spontaneous” problems. During this part of the program, the kids receive a challenge on the day of the regional tournament and have a short amount of time to solve it, working as a team. The teams also present their Long-Term Problem solutions at the March regional tournament, typically held in Alexandria. Additional information can be found at: NOVA East Odyssey of the Mind, Region 11, which runs our regional tournament. VOICES (Virginia Opportunities in Creative ExplorationS) is our state Odyssey organization. Check with your local school to find out who is coordinating the program.

If you don’t have Odyssey at your school, you can organize it! Visit the main Odyssey website to purchase a membership for your school, which allows you to field a team in each of the problem categories, and several teams for little kids in the primary division (K-2nd grade). Then recruit students and parent coaches, and there are local trainings and resources to help them get started. The Glebe Elementary School Odyssey web page has useful information for teams and details about the program.

FIRST Lego League: Coming soon… 
VEX Robotics: coming soon… 

Visit a Makerspace

More details are coming soon!

For Your Calendar!

Coming soon:

USA Science and Engineering Festival:

The USA Science & Engineering Festival inspires students nationwide with year-round K–12 educational programming and culminates in a multi-day celebration. The next one is April 23-26, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Camps & Classes

APS Summer School: 

In addition to providing students extra time in certain subjects, elementary students also have the option to enroll in one or more enrichment programs, and coding is often offered. Enrichment courses are also offered at the middle school level, and high school students may take classes as new work for credit, including a limited number of blended and virtual classes. Check out what’s available at the Outdoor Lab for some cool options. Click here for information about the APS Summer Laureate program in STEM.

Arlington Summer Camps: 

A online list of what’s available over the summer in Arlington, VA. Check out new opportunities every year.

Coming soon — The Arlington Career Center – Enrichment opportunities

Boolean Girl: 

Boolean Girl is an awesome local non profit corporation with a focus on educating girls to code, build, invent, and animate. Boolean Girl provides enrichment classes and workshops, all-girl summer camps, special events, Girl Scout programs, and they can help you to start your own club. They will provide you with a curriculum, materials, and all the tools you need. They also offer Raspberry Pi kits and online resources that for both boys and girls to learn how computers work, master coding skills, and build inventions, utilizing sensors, motors, and more. Boolean Girl has offered to support free and/or very low cost — and highly effective — activities at many Arlington Public Schools. What’s needed is a person at each school in our community to step up and make it happen. Is that person you?

Creative Difference – coming soon –

Engineering for Kids:

This is a franchise business that was created to fill the age gap, since there tend to be far fewer opportunities for our young inventors. Engineering For Kids has locations near us that offer after-school activities, summer engineering camp, classes, and even programs for birthday parties and scouting troops. Subject matter includes robotics, interactive engineering, technology, and coding.

Engineering for Kids of the Capital Area:  Washington, DC area

Engineering for Kids of Northern Virginia:  Ashburn, VA

Engineering for Kids of North Maryland: Frederick, MD

Girls Who Code:

This nonprofit is dedicated to closing the gender gap for girls in the computer science field, and especially, trying to prevent the huge dropoff in interest that happens between the ages of 13-17.… Read the rest


Ear Food: Ted Talks About Challenge-Based, STEAM Learning

What’s the #1 skill that will open up opportunities in many top fields of the future — some of which haven’t been invented yet?

The answer is not just proficiency in subject areas. It’s the ability to solve problems, according to surveys of engineers and business leaders.

Through our own experiences working with our kids, the parents involved with Arlington STEAM have become convinced of:

  • the value of challenge-based learning opportunities
  • the value of multidisciplinary STEAM education
  • and the importance of teaching skills such as teamwork, communication, and project management.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite TED Talks about these ideas.






Ted Talks on Creativity

Ted Talks to about How to Make STEAM Learning Incredibly Fun



Perspectives: STEAM Education

Building Bots and Confidence

From: The New York Times, February 22, 2019

BALTIMORE — On a blustery winter afternoon in a school gym that had seen better days, Shemar Watkins, 11, and three friends huddled over a pile of Legos, learning how to fail. The lesson wasn’t going well. … Early versions of their bot would probably fail on the battlefield, sending them back to the drawing board. Indeed, the Gravediggers’ first creation — heavily fortified but barely tested — was in pieces after a couple of bouts.

“They did you a favor!” Aron Lee, the class instructor, boomed from half court, shouting amid the din of 10- and 11-year-olds scrambling for Lego bricks, fixing defeated bots and trash-talking one another. “They showed you where your weak spots are!”

Then, a reminder. “Failure is your fuel,” he told the Gravediggers and anyone else within earshot. “But remember — you have to fail fast.”

That in a nutshell was the objective of the weekly lab that Mr. Lee and his company, Deilab (pronounced DAY-lab), conducts at Eutaw-Marshburn, which is near a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood northeast of downtown. While the activities are hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, Mr. Lee says the children are also learning about resilience: the willingness to overcome adversity and try, try again…


STEAM: Using the Arts to Train Well-Rounded and Creative Scientists

From: The Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, October 2018

While the demand for a strong STEM workforce is growing and is recognized by academic, non-profit, and government institutions alike, there are challenges that threaten our ability to recruit, train, and retain such a workforce in ways that are effective and sustainable and foster innovation.

Educator-scientists are meeting some of these challenges by infusing creativity — by means of the arts — into the education and training of future scientists. … When we think of integrating arts and science, the most obvious art form that comes to mind is the visual arts. After all, most scientists have had to generate diagrams to communicate their science effectively. At the same time, performance arts such as dance and theater also lend themselves to integration into science education and training.

In this Perspectives article, we review the use of visual and performance arts in science education and their benefits in both K–12 and post-secondary education. We also discuss STEAM programs in science outreach and the development of professional scientists. …



Perspectives: Girls & STEM – Closing the Gender Gap

Girls Get Tech. They Just Need Others to Believe It.

New research explores how access to technology helps put girls on par with boys.
From: The New York Times, February 12, 2019

Research by the Girl Scout Research Institute, out this week, says that — according to a survey of 2,900 girls and boys ages 5 to 17 (along with their parents) — giving girls the same access to smartphones, tablets, laptops and gaming devices helps put girls on par with boys when it comes to tech, or to be able to exceed them in some respects.


Making Gains for Women in STEM Fields Will Take More Effort

From: The New York Times, November 20, 2018

No one disputes these days that STEM remains mostly a man’s world. Much has been written about the male geek culture that dominates Silicon Valley and other technology hubs. But numerous speakers at the conference agreed that needs to change soon if women are to adjust to fast-changing job markets that increasingly require technological skills, or scientific proficiency.

“This is one of the most important issues of our time, and it is urgent,” said Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, founder of W4, an organization that promotes girls and women in technology. “It has nothing to do with cognitive abilities, that has been proven. It is about consistent, deeply entrenched stereotypes.”

The stubborn gap between men and women in STEM is evident from an early age, and continues through university to the workplace, according to “Bridging the Digital Gender Divide,” a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) released in October.



Women in STEM Fields: Recent Stats

Women in STEM: Statistics, an update from 2017

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Released November 2017

Key findings:

  • Women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2015 but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs. Likewise, women constitute slightly more than half of college educated workers but make up only 25 percent of college educated STEM workers.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 35 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs — even higher than the 30 percent STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs. Women with STEM jobs also earned 40 percent more than men with non-STEM jobs.
  • While nearly as many women hold undergraduate degrees as men overall, they make up only about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. Women make up a disproportionately low share of degree holders in all STEM fields, particularly engineering.