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Start a Science Club

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Starting a science club for kids is rewarding and suprisingly easy.  The best part- anyone can do it.  You don't have to be a scientist or a teacher (well, ok, it helps if you are a bit of a ham.)

He's not a real scientist but the kids don't care.
The most important thing: Wear a LAB COAT. This gives you instant credibility as a Science Expert.

"But I am not a scientist or a teacher, how can I run a Science Club?"
The key word here is club.  You don't have to "teach" anything (that would be science class, right?)  Science Club leaders just set up hands on projects for the kids and let the kids have fun doing them.  The goal is to make kids say "Science is Fun!  Science is Cool!  I can DO Science!"  If they learn some science principles in the process, fine, but in Science Club, that is secondary to fun. 
"I don't know if I can find time to make such a committment as a Science Club"
How about a club that meets one time for a project?  Give it a try.  The clubs that I have done meet monthly after school for about 1-2 hours.  The kids do one hands on project and see a few demonstrations.  They love it.  I spend about 6 - 8 hours preparing for a new project and 2 hours running the club. 
 I have done science clubs at my children's schools for 5 years.  I have covered grades 3-8.  I have learned a lot about what works and what doesn't.  Here is what I do that works for our schools.
The club meets once per month, for about an hour and a half.  Each session focuses on a hands-on project (or 2) that the kids do and take home with them, plus a couple demonstrations by me or a guest scientist (usually me, since I find I am usually better than real scientists at communicating with fourth graders.) 
A club is easy to start as long as you have leader that is willing to commit to one club a month and all the preparations.  As I said, you really don't need a science expert, since the goal is not not to teach science, but to let kids have fun with science. 

As for costs, supplies for the kids projects range from $1 - $5 per kid per science club with supplies for the demos usually costing about $10 per science club.  Mostly I use commonly available items. 
Funding:  I usually charge $15-20 per kid per year for supplies.  This should cover most of the supplies, but I spend a little more of my own money at times building prototypes, buying demo stuff or building a giant catapult etc.  Another funding source might be a Halloween Spook House fundraiser using some of the spooky effects we do in the October Science Club.
Here is a sample Schedule for a school year:
October:  Spooky Halloween Science -Fizzy Eyeballs , dry ice and  Spooky Sound Making Devices.

November:  light demonstrations and build a periscope

December:  Build an electric motor

Jan:   Polymer Slime Use in conjuction with the Polymer Superball project for a full hour of science - start off by giving the kids gummy worms and talking about properties of polymers

February:  Soap Science (make actual soap with cocoa butter and lye)

March:  Air pressure demos and build an air/vaccum pump

April:  Soda Pop Science  and Soda Pop Fountains

May:  9 Volt Electrolysis

June:  Field trip to local park:  build water rockets  (what better way to make science cool than an announcement over the school intercom "Would all Science Club members please report for the field trip.")

I hope you find this helpful.  I'd love to hear how it goes and to hear about any good experiments!

Bill Youngman

AKA "Bill Y the Science Guy"


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