STEM Programs

Illuminating new possibilities in growing fields.


Boys & Girls Club of Dane County is committed to closing the opportunity gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with innovative and creative programs, activity ideas, and resources for Clubs and the youth they serve. After-school and summer learning environments provide unique opportunities to advance STEM knowledge and increase interest in STEM-related careers.

Using a cross-disciplinary approach that channels young people’s natural curiosity into the design process inherent in the arts, our STEM programs empower youth to create new solutions to real-world challenges. This project-based approach develops critical thinking, problem solving and other 21st-century skills critical to success in the STEM workforce and beyond.

  • App Lab: A curriculum in intermediate-level coding that uses MIT’s App Inventor platform to engage teens in building mobile apps; available through the My.Future platform
  • DIY STEM: Fun, hands-on activities using easy-to-procure materials allow Club members to explore the “science of every day”
  • Building Blocks: Introductory engineering activities challenge youth to improve their communities while learning about design processes and exploring STEM-related careers


App Lab/Computer Science

Club members are engaged on a journey to learn computer science based on their needs and unique interests. Club members will develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and coding through the Computer Science program. The program structure is easy for staff to facilitate and will help members learn the code that runs the web, computer programs, robots, and video games. Core programs in the Computer Science pathway are:

  • Hour of Code: Learn the basic concepts of computer science
  • CS Unplugged: Explore computer science concepts with no need for computers, internet, or other devices
  • App Lab: Build mobile apps for Android devices
  • edX: Take online classes and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) from the world’s best universities



DIY STEM is a hands-on, activity-based STEM curriculum that connects youth aged 9 to 12 to science themes they encounter regularly. Special attention is paid to connections of theory and application and the common interactions members have with these scientific principles. DIY STEM currently includes six thematic units: Energy and Electricity, Engineering Design, Food Chemistry, Intro to Aeronautics, Intro to Robotics, and Science of Sports: Football.

Culminating events allow parents, siblings, Club staff, and other stakeholders to observe and delight in the efforts of Club members. These events provide opportunities for socialization among parents, Club staff and participants, and for recognizing member participation. And in this forum, Club professionals may speak to the importance of creative, collaborative, inquiry-based opportunities to develop critical thinking skills for all young people.


Building Blocks

Building Blocks includes a series of nine tablet-based activities for middle-school-aged youth. The core challenge is for Club members to create a concept for an innovative design that could improve their communities. The activities begin by exposing Club members to the products of engineering and civic innovation in the world all around them. Club members then experiment with the skills that engineers use to build and plan. As participants progress through the three units – Inquiry and Exploration, Collaboration and Planning, and Project Design and Development – they learn more about STEM-based careers and the processes and skills that STEM professionals use.


Summer STEM

During the summer, members are invited to participate in a six-week STEM programming opportunity. In partnership with Maydm, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County offers rising third graders to teens the opportunity to learn about the foundations of computer programming, information technology skills, and career exploration in STEM. Members are introduced to computational thinking concepts (critical thinking, problem solving), programming and application (C+++ language, troubleshooting, and debugging), and communication skills (written and verbal communication, teamwork, and leadership). Members are supported and mentored by industry professionals, Club staff, and education staff to reinforce learning and personal development.