Our homeschool group meets monthly for Science Club. Here's how it works in case you're starting your own club.
The goal of Science Club is to get kids exposed to science topics through hands-on exploratory activities. There isn't formal teaching. Kids just explore each activity and move on when they're ready.
For some families, Science Club is the culmination of a science unit, and for others, it's the beginning of a unit. It's helpful for parents because each family is only doing research and organizing one activity. This saves time and money and allows families to focus on what they're interested in or good at.
Our Science Club is mainly for elementary-aged kids. Older kids can help or teach. Younger kids are welcome, but parents may want to bring an extra activity appropriate for them and must be mindful of choking hazards.
How it works:
-We share information about Science Club on our homeschool Facebook group as a monthly event. For each event the description tells this month's science topic and the general Science Club description for those new to the Club. It also tells which library we'll be meeting at.
-Science Club is free. Here's how. First, our library doesn't charge us to use the space as long as we don't charge for Science Club. Second, all families bring a learning activity. Because everyone is doing some work, there's no need to pay one teacher for their time.
-For each Science Club meet-up, all families bring an activity(s) for the theme. For example, families could bring a selection of recommended books, an experiment, a model, a coloring activity or art project, a game, or even a display of something their family did at home.
-The activities are set around the room, some at tables and some on the floor. The adults decide if they'd like to stay with the activities, walk around with their kids, or a mixture of both. If a parent decided not to stay with their activity, they made a sign describing what could be done at the activity. The kids/families rotate around the room clock-wise to explore each activity at their own pace.
-Each month a different family chooses the Science Club theme. I talk with the family at the end of Science Club and ask the kids for their ideas. Sometimes I need to steer the theme a bit. For example a child suggested we study air. I associated air with the atmosphere and our lungs. She got excited about studying lungs. So I suggested we make our theme the human body, and she could learn about air and our lungs. Everyone's happy, and we have a theme the whole group can work with.
Update July 2018: Things we learned and might try differently:
I led this Science Club for about a year. During this time we definitely got good at making signs explaining what to do at each activity. Kids and parents had amazing enthusiasm to share what they brought and came up with really interesting activities. I think the hardest thing was for families to balance the desire to teach or share their activity and to be together exploring the activities. If I were to rework a Science Club, I would focus more on this problem. Perhaps we would somehow schedule a good mixture of direct teaching/sharing and independent activities.