Cache Makers connects youth to hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) experiences with skilled mentors. Project areas include computer programming, digital design and production, and robotics/electronics/mechanics. These offerings give youth opportunities to explore their STEM interests, participate in a community of makers, and prepare for rewarding careers. In the last year, we served an additional 458 unique youth to bring our number of total youth served through 1-week summer camps and 6-week school-year clubs to 822, well on our way toward our original goal of 1000 youth over 3 years.
The club has expanded participation to groups often underrepresented in STEM fields through all-girls groups, Spanish outreach, free community events, and affordable offerings for all families. Growing community partnerships raise awareness of what we offer and bring opportunities closer to youth and families in each Cache Valley community.
Consistent with our grant proposal, our efforts fall into four main categories:
1) One-week summer day camps (9-12 or 2-5 M-F)- June through August
2) Six-week school-year clubs (4-6 or 6:30-8:30 T-F)- two during Fall and three during Spring
3) Outreach (free opportunities with community partners around Cache Valley)
4) Open hours (Saturdays, 9-5)
As these efforts have stabilized, we consistently serve approximately 100 youth every 6-week school-year cycle and 300 each summer. Each cycle involves a good mix of new and current Cache Makers participants. Outreach occurs on a monthly basis, with contact hours reported separately from other indicators (such as number of unique youth served through longer-term activities).
We have more than tripled our outreach contact hours since last grant year, from 30 events with 520 contact hours to 85 events with 1766 contact hours. We also added two additional native Spanish-speaking staff who are leading significant community outreach for the Latino community. Our Dia de los Muertos workshop brought over 80 individuals to our space and introduced and familiarized many families to opportunities for learning and making here.
We also added a fifth prong to our efforts with a recent high school partnership
5) Six-week school-day high school groups- staff-led activities two days per week during FLEX hour
This will be extended to other high schools next year, but we are positive about its effects so far.
Although we doubled the number of registered volunteers to 70 over the last year, we have not added many new group leaders. This is a concern that we will be addressing while we still have staff to help. The staff will develop instructional materials and train interested parents in equipment use and instruction.