10 Hands-On Places for STEM Learning

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If you’re looking to add diversion, innovation and exhilaration to your child’s learning, it’s time for you to join the STEM craze. STEM is a movement that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math (and sometimes art) in childhood learning. Hop aboard the STEM train and get ready to watch your children thrive in ways you never knew they could––full STEM ahead!

photo: iStock

Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center/Center for Innovation in Early Learners SEEC/CIEL
The Smithsonian Early Explorers (SEE) program is for caretakers and their children ages 18 months-2 years. Classes meet two days a week from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m on Mondays and Wednesdays in the National Museum of American History.Young learners and their caregivers explore museums, develop skills through play, and build lifelong friendships. The program emphasizes STEM, with an added “a” for “art” to make it STEAM. The SEE tuition is $714/month.

National Museums of Natural History
10th and Constitution Ave. NW
National Mall
Online: seecstories.com

KID International Discovery Museum
KID museum is an independent non-profit program that partners with the Montgomery Country Public Library. Their mission is to cultivate creativity, curiosity and compassion to build a better world. They feature unique, interactive experiences for elementary and middle school-aged children that integrate hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math learning that explores world cultures and global citizenship. Admission is $12 for one child and two adults.

KID International Discovery Museum
6400 Democracy Blvd.
Bethesda, MD
Online: kid-museum.org


Flickr: OpenTech Summit

photo: OpenTech Summit via flickr 

Engineering for Kids
At Engineering for Kids, science, technology, engineering and math merge with entertainment and fun through classes, camps, clubs and parties. Here you’ll find a haven of ways to inspire your little Einstein through hands-on learning. There are even programs for home-schooled students, scouts events, in-school field trips, and parents’ night out. Classes range in size from 2 to 20 students. With multiple area locations, including DC, MD and VA, and subjects that span the engineering field – civil, chemical, electrical, environmental and more – as well as levels that range from junior to apprentice to master, the learning possibilities are endless!

Multiple Locations in DC, VA, MD
Online: engineeringforkids.com

STEM Action Center
STEMaction is a non-profit organization that works to ignite and nurture a lifelong passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics through events and activities for K-12 students. Program events focus on FIRST teams, including FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League. They are also a founding partner of the Maryland STEM festival, an annual week-long event that showcases excellent STEM activities from across the state.

STEM Action Center
7178 Columbia Gateway
Columbia, MD
Online: stemaction.org

Cheverly STEM Education Center
This smart spot features science and engineering courses for homeschoolers. They offer two full days of classes designed to target upper elementary, middle and high school level students. Classes emphasize hands-on sequential experiences through which students discover important concepts and principals, as well as encourage the development of critical-thinking skills.  Courses start at $135.

Cheverly STEM Education Center
2801 Cheverly Ave.
Cheverly, MD
Online: cheverlystem.com

Children’s Science Center Lab
Children’s Science Center Lab works to inspire curiosity and creativity in children through a large variety of STEM-focused workshops, plus camps, field trips and birthday parties. Activities are designed for preschool level, elementary, middle school, and high school.  Belly up to the Experiment Bar where you can try your hand at chemistry, biology, physics, and more.  Or spend some time in the Inspiration Hub, where kids can finally put lessons from school math to work in real life. There’s also a Tinker Shop and Discovery Zone for building, creating, and inventing.  And it’s all inside a shopping mall. That’s right, you can have daddy take the kids to the science lab while you get your shopping done! You can buy tickets for the lab online or at the door. General admission is $13 and that price includes a caregiver for children 12 & under.

Fair Oaks Mall
11948 Fair Oaks Mall
Fairfax, VA
Online: childsci.org


photo: National Children’s Museum 

National Children’s Museum
Scheduled to open any day, the new 33,000 square-foot space in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, will serve as both cutting edge science center and children’s museum. Inside fiberglass spheres made to look like clouds, children can do simple blockchain coding exercises, designed in partnership with Microsoft, that change the colors of LED lights. Elsewhere, many of the exhibits are similarly tech-focused. A collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association allows kids to see themselves as superheroes on a green screen who have the power to control the weather, from “arbor avengers” to “mighty meteorologists.” They’ve also teamed up with the Washington Nationals to teach kids about magnetic fields through a baseball installation, featuring players like Max Scherzer. The museum aims to serve kids up to the age of 12, and is partnering with DC Public Schools to offer students educational programming. General admission tickets are $10.95 for children over the age of one and adults.

National Children’s Museum
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Online: https://nationalchildrensmuseum.org/

Bricks 4 Kidz
Bricks 4 Kidz is a proud supporter of STEM Education Enrichment and their programs offer outlets beyond the classroom for children to gain exposure to and explore engineering, architecture, physics, robotics, and other science and math topics.  Their STEM focused programs have various degrees and are targeted to elementary to middle school aged students. All their materials are created by Science professionals and are focused on early-age exposures to STEM topics. They use fun things like LEGO bricks, gears, motors, digital cameras and animation as hands-on teaching tools. Their main focus is to create a fun environment to help enhance learning and long term knowledge of concepts.

Multiple Locations in MD
Online: https://www.bricks4kidz.com


photo: STEM for Her

STEM for Her
STEM for Her is a non-profit foundation in the DMV that promotes education to create awareness, excitement, and opportunities among girls and young women to pursue successful STEM-related careers. They provide funding for programs that foster STEM interest in girls and young women through field trips, speakers, programs and curriculum development, and contributes program resources for clubs and after school groups throughout our area. STEM for Her is committed to helping more young women across the greater Washington, DC. region consider and thrive on STEM-related paths.  Each year, STEM for Her partners with a variety of local and global organizations to help young women pursue their futures in STEM fields. These programs are designed to introduce them to the breadth of opportunity in STEM and get them excited about engaging in STEM-specific careers.  Since 2013, STEM for Her has supported the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) which focuses on discussing key issues with women leaders working in STEM policy.

STEM for Her
200 Little Falls St.
Falls Church, VA
Online: https://www.stemforher.org/

Code4Life is an out-of-school-time program created by the Economic Growth DC Foundation in partnership with Accenture that teaches basic computer programming skills to K-12 students in DC. In the last 7 years, the program has expanded to over 30 locations in DC. Their curriculum is aligned to the AP Computer Science Principles and participation in their program is direct preparation for future computer science electives. Their curriculum is broken down into 16 hour modules that each focus on a particular computing concept. They make use of several programming languages, including Scratch, HTML, Python and C++. Each module of the curriculum is largely project-based and requires working solo and in teams, and involves a capstone presentation on a student’s final project.

1130 Connecticut Avenue NW, Ste. 350
Online: code4life.us

––Guiomar Ochoa and Jamy Bond


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