A new free STEM club is coming to Guelph this year, courtesy of Royal City Science.
As after school programming, Mission STEM:Possible is intended for elementary-aged children, to experiment with various STEM subjects like space, genetics and engineering.
It’s currently scheduled to run once a month from January to June. Each month will focus on a different area of science.
It kicks off with engineering design on Jan. 31 in the 10C Community Classroom.
“Participants will get a fun marble run challenge where they have to design a system to drop the marble from one place to another, and take the longest amount of time possible,” said Joanne O'Meara, co-founder of Royal City Science, which launched in 2020 with the intention of being a hub for STEM education in Guelph.
“It’ll be lots of fun and we’ll talk about the principles of design as we go,” she said.
Later on, she said, they’ll be looking at space, “talking about telescopes, maybe making a pinhole camera, doing a little rocket launch.”
They’re also hoping to have one session focused on DNA to talk about genetics, and another at the arboretum for a nature walk.
“It's really all about the hands-on and the exploring and being able to ask questions. So you're going to have experts there with you helping you guide your experiment, and it's just the opportunity to have those light bulb moments with tactile experiences,” she said.
O’Meara said over the last few years it’s been difficult for kids to practice experimental, hands-on science in schools because of pandemic restrictions.
“But now things are easing and we can get back together again. Nothing replaces that hands-on,” she said.
The club will then give kids the opportunity to build something and if it doesn’t work, problem solve to find out why.
“Doing the experiment to find out, that's what science is. So being able to do that in person with kids is just going to be so great.”
It’s similar to their STEM club for home-schooled children that ran last year, but ramped up – and free – since they have funding from the National Research Council of Canada this time around.
There will be two groups, junior (for kids aged 10 and under) and senior (for kids 11 and up), with up to 25 kids in each. Registration is month to month, and the meeting days will be different to make it as accessible for as many kids as possible.
Both groups will have the same theme and run on the same day but at different times: the junior group will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the senior group from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“It's very much about accessibility,” she said. “Each month we’re going to meet in a different location around town. We want to be able to bring science to the community to make sure there are as few barriers as possible for kids to get to these events and have fun.”
Not all the locations and topics have been determined yet, but she said they are partnering with the Guelph Public Library to start, and welcome suggestions from anyone who might know of other locations that would work well in the meantime.