April 29, 2019

On Saturday, April 13th, BGCSF’s Excelsior Clubhouse held its second annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Fair. Organized by Keystone Club members from the Excelsior Clubhouse, this event featured fun, educational activities for the whole family. Youth and their families were invited to the event, which included experiments, workshops, and a wealth of scientific information. Among the organizations in attendance were the San Francisco Zoo, the San Francisco Public Library, Columbia University, Tree Frog Treks, and more.

Excelsior Keystone Club member Cindy shows off the display welcoming families to the STEAM Fair.

Speaking with some of the Keystone Club members who helped organize the fair, they mentioned the amount of work that went into the successful event. Excelsior Clubhouse Youth of the Year and Keystone Club member Cindy, 17, spoke of the planning involved in the STEAM Fair. “Throughout the year we’re always keeping the fair in the back of our mind,” Cindy began. “We start the real planning around six to eight months out. We have 14-15 members of Keystone Club, and we all play a role in making the event happen. We discuss it at every meeting, and it’s something that’s really a group effort.”

Sometimes, science can be icky!

Once the Keystone Club members have a gameplan they start putting together the pieces for the event. The event requires the organizers to apply for grants, order materials, find community partners, promote the event, and much more. Putting all these pieces together takes a long time, but the teamwork and leadership skills the Club members learn are valuable tools for their futures. Cindy’s fellow Keystone Club member, Jasmine, 17, a four year member of the Excelsior Clubhouse, spoke of the growth opportunities an event like this provides. “Planning the STEAM Fair lets me learn how to communicate better with people, and talking to community partners lets me learn about the professional aspects as well,” Jasmine said. “The STEAM Fair lets us work together and come up with interesting ideas for the kids. It feels really good seeing everything come together.”

Attendees were given passports that encouraged them to visit all the STEAM Fair booths.

A result of the hard work put in to the STEAM Fair is the diversity of partnerships on display at the event. Whether through Tree Frog Treks, San Francisco Public Library, the San Francisco Zoo, or many other participants, attendees were given the opportunity to not only learn at the event, but have new doors opened for them moving forward as well.

Speaking with Marla, a representative of the San Francisco Public Library, she had a number of ways for teens to stay engaged with STEAM activities at their local library branch. “The library’s STEM programs prevent summer academic slide. They help participants learn, grow, take initiative, and meet new friends.”

Discussing the opportunities, Marla mentioned five STEAM programs that will be run by teens this summer through a program called YELL (Youth Engaged in Library Leadership). Participating teens can earn a $500 scholarship through the library. The programs include Lego motorcars, filmmaking, teen book trailers, social media for beginners and making emoji pillows. More details are available at sfpl.org/yell.

Also present were representatives from Tree Frog Treks, which focuses on introducing kids to science and critical thinking skills. Their representative, Shea, said the organization is “focused on kids having more green time and less screen time.” To achieve this, Tree Frog Treks organizes in-school and after-school programming (like their weekly class at Mission Clubhouse) that helps youth develop an appreciation for nature.

Tree Frog Treks brought reptile friends that attendees could hold.

Based on the interest attendees had in the critters brought by Tree Frog Treks, it was clear they have a knack for generating excitement about nature. Visitors to their booth got to hold two different snakes and some other reptilian friends and received lessons about their habitat and biology. Mentioning what it means to help kids learn about nature, Shea said, “I take a lot of pride in teaching the kids about the wonders of nature and the joys it can bring about. It’s good to make a difference by showing kids how to give back to the earth.”

“A lot of the messaging the zoo sets forth is stuff people can help with on on a daily basis. Not just animal conservation, but also climate change, which is something we talk about quite frequently as an organization and something we can all fight against. It’s wonderful to be a part of community outreach.” - Marcus, Intern with San Francisco Zoo

Following the event, Excelsior Clubhouse High School Services Director Earl Declet praised his Keystone Club members for the effort they put in. “I’ve seen a lot of growth among our Keystone members,” Earl began. “They’ve worked on their writing skills, development skills through filing for grants, marketing through the promotional posters and t-shirts for the event, public speaking and community engagement skills. An event like this really helps them cover all the bases they need to be job-ready and have the great professional skills we want to develop here at Excelsior Clubhouse. I’m very proud of all of them.”

If you’re a teen or know of one looking for growth opportunities like these, visit our Teens page for more information. If you’re already a member but want to start organizing your own event, speak to your Club’s High School Services Director.

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