The future workforce is developing every day, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana contribute to that development through the many unique programs offered to Club members. Several of these enriching programs foster an understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers and processes, an intrinsically valuable component in the direction of future workforce needs.
In the new STEM Lab program, Club members transform building blocks and Legos into moving machinery. With an emphasis on kinetics combined with brainpower, the programs provide children an opportunity to build things with their hands. The Lab is equipped with a Mac computer, a large plasma screen television, robotics, hydraulics, and interactive electronics. According to the Club’s website, STEM Lab offers fun educational experiences to kids of all ages.
One of the most popular programs is Code for a Day. Created by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Code for a Day allows members to learn computer programming, including how to write code for game design, web design, and other technology-driven creative projects. This program is timely and will establish a firm foundation for children to eventually enter a workforce bolstered by such industries.
On the flip side, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana also offer programming to help young members navigate the twists and turns of the Internet. NetSmartz, an Internet safety program produced with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, offers age-appropriate, interactive lessons of this nature. Using cutting edge animation and computer-based tutorials, young participants play games and teens take interactive quizzes. Club professionals and leaders reinforce each lesson by interacting and engaging with participants.
The Valparaiso, John Will Anderson Gary, East Chicago Katherine House and Duneland Clubs offer a special program that joins STEM skills with the fine arts. Each Club is equipped with a digital recording studio, empowering young members to compose and produce original music. Assisted by technology, Club members write, edit, compose and produce their own creative musical compositions. To listen to a sample of beats created by Club members, click on the drop-down menu beside the ‘Digital Recording Studios’ section on Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s Special Programs page and play each sound bite (some computer settings may restrict access).
“Our organization is dedicated to bringing relevant programming to youth of today. Kids like technology, they like hands-on activities, and they like exploring. We have STEM programming in all of our Clubs along with other technology driven programs like Exergaming. We are proud to partner with so many who help us to bring such programming to our Club members like ArcelorMittal, Comcast, Boeing, Legacy Foundation, Porter County Community Foundation, BP Amoco, and Praxair just to name a few. We could not do what we do for kids without the strong support of so many in our Northwest Indiana Region,” states Ryan Smiley, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana.
Alicia DuBose, STEM Programming Coordinator at the John Will Anderson (JWA) Boys & Girls Club in Gary, described the benefits of engaging children’s minds through such interactive learning.
“Kids tend to dive in head first with a love of knowledge,” DuBose said. “Maybe our next astronauts could be from right here in Gary, or anyone of our Greater Northwest Indiana communities.”
For more information on the many unique programs Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana offer, visit their website.