Showcase › Forums › Teen Science Cafe Workshop Discussion 2015 › What are some ways you motivate students to take action between events? › Reply To: What are some ways you motivate students to take action between events?
I’ve noticed the same thing in my previous work with the St. Louis node (Cahokia, specifically) and in my work as a STEM elective teacher. Out-of-meeting (or classroom) work often ranks at a lower level of priority when measured against other academic work, clubs, and family/social obligations.
My solution involved accomplishing everything in the meetings that I could. At Cahokia, we would have “planning meetings” about one month prior to a cafe where we would begin planning and “follow-up meetings” closer to the cafe where work could be presented and/or finished. These meetings took place right after school to encourage teen involvement and give us a nice window of time for finishing work. Adults took on some of the responsibilities that students couldn’t, such as purchasing and setting up venues, so the event planning committee just had to provide a budget with links to what they wanted to have purchased (decorations, door prizes, etc.) and supply a ranked list of potential venues. The other committees usually accomplished their work during the meetings without a problem. This included making scientist introductions and closing remarks, determining food and beverage choices, and designing flyers. I brought a laptop from the STEM Center and e-mailed the results to the site champions, who had teens distribute them in the schools.
The teens also proposed and started an “Internal Communications” committee that was in charge of checking in with other committees to see what they had or had not accomplished, making sure that the work of individual committees was harmonious with that of other committees, and sharing their reports to the adult leaders. I’m not sure how successful this committee was, but it seemed like a good idea.
Offering praise is a good idea, and I wonder if there is some way to build in incentive for fulfilling commitments – something like a “member of the month” award or a YLT reward raffle tied to some sort of small prize for each cafe.