Back To School with SWE (Part Two)

Preparing for kids going back to school, SWE is planning numerous fall outreach activities & events that promote learning and nurture relationships.
SWE Leadership Summit Update

Kids are ready. Parents are ready. Teachers are ready. Fall is waiting. September is here, and it is time to go back to school. As adults, we invest a lot of time and money into making summers relaxing for our children, but after a period of relaxation, students are ready to be engaged in content.

As we send our youth back to school this September, remember that they desire substance. They want to understand the way the world works, and they are actively looking for people who can show them. With this in mind, many SWE sections are planning fall outreach activities and events to help resolve some of their questions. As your team suggests possible events for these young ladies, remember that they need substantial activities that are relevant, interesting, and exploratory.

Meaningful activities that promote learning and nurture relationships may seem difficult to plan. Here are a few tips to use as you brainstorm suitable events to start your new year:

  • Does the activity promote an enduring understanding (what will the kids remember in the months following your event)?

As an organization, we want to not only represent our SWE section, but also our field. What will the students learn or be exposed to because of your activity that they wouldn’t have ordinarily been exposed to? What will they remember? If the answer doesn’t support the SWE mission, move on to your next idea.

  • Does the activity engage students in the content (will it satisfy a burning need-to-know about STEM)?

Everyone wants to be engaged, but this time of the year, it is very important to intentionally hook students with STEM. When you show students something that they’ve never seen before, you are opening a whole new realm of opportunities. Will you open a door in the fall which you can walk through in the spring? If the answer isn’t yes, move on to your next idea.

  • Does the activity require excessive planning or preparation to execute?

Since SWE sections turn over every June, many sections are still working through their calendar in September. With so much to plan and so little time to do it, it is important to save the heavier events for winter and spring. Is it a daunting task to find members to volunteer to help with the event because it will take too much time? If your answer is yes, move on to your next idea.

  • Does the activity encourage girls to seek out an academic/professional relationship with SWE?

Many times, the activities that we spend hours planning and implementing leave us cold. Most of us have had the experience of talking to numerous students, but walk away feeling like we haven’t connected with any of them. If this is happening to you, find an activity that provides your volunteers with more leisure to circulate through the students and actually get to know them. This will not only encourage your volunteers to be philanthropic, but it will also encourage young women to seek you out if they have more questions about STEM. Does your activity allow for conversations to arise between the girls and the professional members of SWE? If not, move on to your next idea.

If you need additional help finding clever ideas to engage and inspire young women, explore the “Invent it. Build it.” expo at the National Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee. Find information on “Invent it. Build it.” (including location and times) at the “Invent it. Build it.” website.

Julie Knudstrup, Society of Women Engineers

Julie Knudstrup

SWE Outreach Member


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