STEM Sunday is a free, drop-in, challenge-based experience that encourages families to engage in the engineering and design process. Emphasis is on this process rather than the product. Projects are not “take-home”, but may include a take-home element. A simple goal/design challenge is introduced to guide the process and encourage engagement. Projects are “easy entry” for all ages, meaning that specialized skills are not generally needed and children as young as kindergarten can participate. Projects use simple, inexpensive materials, emphasizing that families can easily re-create the project at home. Projects are designed to encourage:
- Team-work and communication. Adults and children work together in brainstorming ideas and solutions and in creating the project.
- Hands-on inquiry and open-ended exploration.
- Trouble-shooting and problem solving. Families need to “tinker” with their project to successfully complete it.
- Redesigning. Families need to redesign to successfully achieve the goal, demonstrating that “failure” is a necessary part of the learning process. This is also an important part of the engineering and design cycle.
- Creativity. Projects are open-ended and have multiple solutions.
- Engagement. Families also given optional additional challenges to further engage in the project and the process.