Informal Science

Family Science Night

I am working on creating an after school family science night program based on STEAM.  We met five times throughout the school year with fun activities to do each night for the whole family.  I also provided light refreshments.  I happen to work in an alternative program which means we have limitations.  Often transportation was a problem.  Disinterest is a huge problem.  My question for the community is: What can I do to increase buy-in?  Is anyone else in a similar situation, trying to provide fun, family oriented science experiences in order to open doors or open eyes? Thanks, Becky

Rebecca Schumacher
Rebecca Schumacher
50 Activity Points

Family science night sounds like a great idea! In the fall it gets dark rather early. Students could go outside with their families to see what happens when it gets dark. For example you could stargaze or look at the different types of bugs that come out in the evening. Parents and kids would have tons of fun doing this!

Lindsey Zhang
Lindsey Zhang
1175 Activity Points

Hi Becky! Thank you for taking the time to engage students and parents in something meaningful and fun. I am not in a similar situation, however, when I was in grade school, my school was funded by NASA. The school put together an event where students (and their parents) would build a rocket from ordinary materials together and we would launch it in the courtyard and whose ever rocket got the farthest won a prize. It was exciting and a great bonding experience. Perhaps making a friendly competition out of it could entice some students to attend. Hope this helps! I wish you the best.

Ashley Gonzalez
Ashley Gonzalez
2650 Activity Points

This is a really interesting idea. There are clubs for a lot of different things, but there are not many that reflect subjects of school such as science. Have you thought about bringing in guest speakers that may draw more of a crowd? There are many people that are capable of putting on cool science demonstrations that I am sure you could get ahold of. Our high school science teacher used to do demonstrations for our elementary school. Unfortunately, transportation is not a simply solved issue; but you could consider putting out feelers for carpools on weekly or monthly reports that students take home with them. I am not sure what the public modes of transportation near you are, but you could also recommend that families teach their students about public forms of transportation because navigation is an important skill to learn. Hope these thoughts help you!

Kale Lindner
Kale Lindner
3045 Activity Points

Hi Becky. I too participate in family science nights through my employment at a local science center. I can honestly say that sometimes turnout is not very good. However, we have found it extremely helpful to conduct family science nights on Fridays. Parents and students alike seem to be more willing to attend such an event on a weekend night when they may not have work the next day. Also, I noticed that many of the schools we visit offer their students some sort of incentive for attending (i.e. extra credit). For our programs the students usually carry around a passport and receive a stamp for every station they complete. This is an effective strategy as the students are usually determined to complete their passports before the nights end. Another suggestion I will make is to offer the students, and parents, hands on activities and experiments. Allow them to conduct the experiments under an administrator's supervision. If the students can go back into school and say "I created a volcano" or "I froze a flower in liquid nitrogen" it will entice other students to want to do the same. Hope this helps. Good Luck!

Scott Williams
Scott Williams
490 Activity Points

I have never thought of having students conduct an experiment at a family science night. I think that's a great way to get students interested in participating!

Jessalyn Primrose
Jessalyn Primrose
4465 Activity Points

There may not be one specific answer to your situation. Perhaps you could poll the students/parents to determine the best night for them to attend. Maybe it needs to happen within the school day? A friend of mine gives her students small badges to wear (like we received at MEMTA) that they earn for attending and participating in certain school events. I read an article a few months back where a principal was trying to get parents to actually come into the school for an informal coffee with the principal to chat about their concerns and ideas for the school. She noticed many parents walked their children to the corner but didn't actually walk them onto the school property. The principal walked down to where most of the parents were stopping to visit with them. It turned out that the parents did not have very good memories of their school days and felt like school was a necessary evil. That started the conversation. Things began to turn around after that. I realize you may not be in a position to speak with the parents in that manner. What if you could make arrangements with a community center that serves your students in their neighborhoods and hold science nights there? I would suggest talking the the city parks and recreation department to see what guidelines you would need to follow. Then, if you have any energy left, contact local stores to see if they could donate small prizes, coupons, etc. How you give out the prizes depends on what you think will have the greatest impact. You could give them out at science night or let students know they get their name in the pot for the drawing, each time they attend and an extra time for any adult that attends with them. I think it would be beneficial to have other teachers and the administration on board to help you with getting the word out. Maybe have the local TV station come out or ask them to make an announcement for upcoming events for your school. What if you could get a local high school to send student volunteers so they could earn service hours?

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
87364 Activity Points

I believe these Family Science Nights are wonderful, and if turnout is good, it is a great way to get the parents involved in their child's education. I would definitely send out a questionnaire to see when the parents of your students are most available. It could have been due to the time that it was scheduled that some may not have been able to attend. In the questionnaire I would also ask the families what they would like to see, learn, or experience with their child at this event. I believe if they feel like their opinion matters in what will happen at this event and are asked what is a best time then the families may be more willing to attend the event.

Victoria Wilt
Victoria Wilt
1015 Activity Points

Hi! I agree with you in finding out when the best nights for parents to attend a Science night at the school. Also asking parents what areas of science that they want to learn about should help with participation too.

Kia Shields
Kia Shields
3192 Activity Points

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers