There are many entities in a community that have an interest in or mission to improve K-12 STEM education. You can harness this interest by using Lights On Afterschool as an opportunity to connect with new partners or as way to grow current partners’ engagement and commitment to afterschool.
- Science centers and museums: These institutions are all about hands-on learning and employ staff with a deep knowledge of science and engineering topics. They are often eager to reach audiences outside the museum walls and look to better serve underserved communities.
- Get some event ideas from our 2015 Lights On initiatives with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (see the blog and webinar) and Bright House Networks.
- Identify a potential science center partner. Don’t forget about children’s museums, as many have a strong interest in STEM as well!
- Read the Museum & Community Partnerships Collaboration Guide from the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net) for ideas on how to start and sustain a partnership, and tools to help you collaborate.
- STEM professionals: Our communities are full of STEM experts who may relish the opportunity to share their expertise and passion. Invite a local biologist, engineer, or computer scientist to lead an activity and share their story. All kids need positive role models and mentors to help envision themselves as someone who can do STEM, and Lights On is perfect opportunity to introduce a STEM professional to your kids!
- To find a mentor, start with people you know, like a friend or a parent of a student. Next, try reaching out to local chapters of professional membership organizations, like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers or the Society of Women Engineers. If you’d like to connect with an industry partner, their community relations department can help identify interested employees. Don’t forget about higher education staff and students—start with their K-12 outreach department or STEM student groups. You can also search the FabFems database to find a female STEM professional already interested in working with youth.
- To make the experience positive for both students and your volunteer STEM professional, check out the Role Models Matter toolkit for tools to plan and structure the visit, resources to train the professional on working with kids, and activity ideas tied to STEM careers.
- Other STEM education partners: You might also consider zoos and aquaria, parks and nature centers, or government agencies as partners for your Lights On event.