STEM Celebrations in April
Citizen Science Month
April is Citizen Science Month! Citizen science projects engage the public in scientific research. Depending on the project and your interests, you may find yourself recording your observations, collecting data, or helping analyze results. This month, you can explore ways to use a citizen science project to engage youth in science, get them outdoors, and help improve your community or world. These make great project-based learning experiences.
NASA also has a great list of citizen science projects you can be a part of.
Be sure to also check out the Budburst project happening this time of year.
Autism Awareness Month
This year's theme is Lead with Kindness. This Kindness Calendar from Autism Speaks is a way to build small acts of kindness into each day in April. Find out what your school is doing for Autism Awareness.
World Health Day
On April 7, the World Health Organization is celebrating World Health Day - building a fairer, healthier world. This is a great opportunity to celebrate health - like learning the best way to wash your hands - or taking a walk outdoors with the youth in your program. The free COVID-19! curriculum from the Smithsonian is a great way to bring together healthy behaviors and learning science. It is all about developing understanding and learning how to protect yourself and others.
Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week
Don't forget to celebrate Afterschool Appreciation Week April 19-23. Taking time to let the great staff in your program doesn't have to be expensive. Consider handmade signs that celebrate what makes your staff and program special. Ask a local bakery or coffee shop to donate a special treat for the staff. Invite families to write thank you notes to staff members and share all your celebrations on social media #HeartOfAfterschool. Visit the Appreciation Toolkit from NAA for more ideas, videos, and images to add to your celebration.
National DNA Day
National DNA Day on April 25 commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. The National Human Genome Research Institute has collected a variety of DNA Day activities.
The Using Science Tools webinar from Click2Science supports staff in introducing the tools and practices of science with a fun activity extracting DNA from strawberries. It includes a video and a handout for the hands-on activities, a discussion of why it is important for all youth to engage in the practices of science, and more resources you can use to explore DNA.
Have Your DNA and Eat It Too from the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah uses colored mini marshmallows, licorice, toothpicks, and paperclips to construct an edible model of DNA. The center also provides background information about DNA, step-by-step instructions, and ideas for extending the learning. You can explore a variety of activities at Teach.Genetics.
Take a virtual field trip and explore Genome: Unlocking Life's Code at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The site features a virtual tour of the exhibit, videos, and teaching and learning tools.