Afterschool K–12 enrichment programs increase students’ interest in, and knowledge of, an engineering future, highlighting the importance of targeting young students, particularly girls, before they develop a bias against technical subjects.
At the same time, leading afterschool engineering clubs strengthens the communication skills of CU engineering students and provides enriching experiences that are different from their own engineering pursuits.
During the past six years, the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program’s TEAMS clubs have exposed about 700 elementary-aged girls and boys to engineering in their own learning environment. TEAMS is an acronym for the program’s philosophy: “Tomorrow’s Engineers…creAte. iMagine. Succeed.”
Approximately 25 undergraduates co-lead the clubs one afternoon a week throughout the spring and fall semesters, leading hands-on engineering activities for students traditionally underrepresented in the field of engineering—low-income youth, children of color, and girls.
“The greatest benefit for me in leading a club was the chance to interact with excited and enthusiastic kids. Seeing them was the best part of my week,” says Kyla Maletsky, a past CU engineering student volunteer.
Many of the TEAMS leaders are active in the Engineering Honors and GoldShirt programs and have given back to their community since their early teens. Others are members of engineering student societies or scholarship recipients who give back while they satisfy a community participation requirement for renewing their scholarship.
Through the hands-on engineering experiences afforded by these clubs, K–12 youth are inspired to pursue futures in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and begin to imagine themselves creating things for the benefit of society. And, our college students become even more committed to their own futures in engineering as well.