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: https://www.dcstemnetwork.org/calendar/
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
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.
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 – http://www.creativedifferencellc.com/about/
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. Check out their website, and start a Girls Who Code Club at your school! This is a FREE after-school program for girls in 3rd-5th and 6th-12th grades. Clubs alumni go on to major in Computer Science at 15 times the national average rate. This a group that is available to support activities at many Arlington Public Schools, and you can find current locations for programming here, to connect with local organizers. Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School are among the schools with clubs. What’s needed is a person at each school in our community to step up and make it happen. Is that person you?
♥ ♦ iD Tech:
Dedicated to “moving the needle in STEM education,” iD Tech provides summer camps as well as year-round, online learning courses, and serves more than 60,000 students. There are programs designed just for girls and there are scholarships for kids with a demonstrated need. Camps are offered locally at American University and Georgetown University, and also give your kid access to 12 online courses they can complete at their own pace.
Led by STEM teachers and college students enrolled in STEM programs, NOVA SySTEMic offers camps that provide hands-on, project-based learning. Courses are offered to kids who will be 3rd graders in the fall up through rising high school seniors. Younger makers can learn about coding and VEX robotics, and older students also have options including Arduino, rocket building, 3D printing, VEX robotics, cybersecurity, and many others. Some require a prerequisite class. Locations for camps are in Loudoun, Woodbridge, Chantilly, and perhaps closer to us, Alexandria.
Check out their list of STEM-oriented camps near Arlington, VA, for ideas.
SemSem School is a Foreign Languages and STEAM Saturday school, based in an office building in the Ballston area of Arlington, that in addition to language classes, also offers Coding, Arts and Crafts, and Theater lessons to children ages 5 to 15. Holiday break camps and classes are also often available.
♥ ♦ Rosie Riveters:
Rosie Riveters provides fun programs for girls ages 4-14 to imagine, create and play while developing their skills in STEM — and a “can do!” attitude. Sign-ups for weekend programs offered at the Arlington Public Library can be found here. In addition, Rosie Riveters has started creating after-school programs at Title 1 schools in Arlington. Volunteers, donations, and teachers are needed to expand this local nonprofit’s reach. Each program features interactive overviews of a STEM concept (density, circuits, chemical reactions, etc.); a tangible and hands-on project that explores that concept; and an exploration of real-world careers associated with the above project through interaction with mentors.
Play at Home / Or Tools for Schools
Offers kits, as well as lesson plans and ideas, if you want to source your own materials.
Take an online visit to the blog of San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a new kind of museum where art and science meet, and the result is a culture of experimentation and collaboration, inspiring curiosity and creativity. Lots of ideas for teaching, professional development, and activities you can experiment with at home.
Lots of cool information about STEAM learning with their educational tools, like this list of the best 25 competitions to interest girls in STEAM learning.
See something that is out of date? Or have something add? Please let us know.