Engaging Students After School

stemST. JOHNSBURY - Engaging students in after-school settings can be a difficult task. At this point in the day, kids are tired, hungry, and overall, irritable. Nevertheless, there is a solution, and librarians gathered at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum this Tuesday afternoon to learn just what that is.

Tracy Truzansky, the Project Manager for Training at Vermont Afterschool, lead the discussion, which outlined the organization's STEM program.

"STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, is really about helping kids look at their prior knowledge around science concepts, and use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways, to make something that's satisfying to them. So it's not engineering, but it's about creating something that's fun and maybe a little bit whimsical, that ignites their interest in STEM."

Truzansky lead participants through a variety of activities, all of which were hands-on, allowing future students to use their creativities' and personal interests.

When asked if technology stands in the way of kids being able to fully engage with these types of STEM activities, Truzansky denied. "It's a creative use of technology. I mean kids can consume technology in all kinds of video games, but what's really interesting about using technology in an after-school setting is that kids become the developers, the designers, and the users, as opposed to the consumers. So that's really different, and I think it engages kids in a really exciting way."

Truzansky went on to discuss her excitement for the program, stating that after-school programs serve as "third spaces" for kids, and by that she meant a place for expression, other than a classroom or at home.

By the end of the workshop, Truzansky hoped the participants would leave feeling confident in their ability to prompt activities within their programs. "The idea is to inspire them to think for themselves, to create and design, and make things. And librarians are really well suited to do that, and they could use a lot of support so families recognize that this is a safe and creative place to be."

 

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