Engaging with Your Community

Hi PA-TSA! I hope you all are excited as I am about our upcoming State Conference! Today, I’d like to talk to you about increasing your chapter’s community engagement. 

Competing in events is an important aspect of TSA, but there are many benefits to interacting with other students, parents, and children as a club. Here are a few ways to get involved with your community outside of your own TSA chapter:

1. Visit a middle school or high school chapter in your school district. If you don’t have a joint middle school and high school chapter, you may interact with the younger or older students very infrequently. Therefore, it’s a good idea to maintain good communication and set up meetings where members from both chapters can engage with one another. High school chapters should be the ones that take on this responsibility, as it is a great way to assist younger members and increase membership. If middle schoolers hear about the TSA experiences high school has to offer, it is more likely that they’ll stick with the club as they graduate. 

2. Teach STEM at an elementary school. One of the best forms of outreach is to introduce young children to STEM concepts. Start by emailing math or science teachers at a local elementary school. Next, plan out the activities that you’d like to do with the kids. My high school chapter used VEX IQ kits that had step-by-step instructions on how to build a robot. When the students finished construction, the robot could pick up blocks with its claw and maneuver through obstacles. Other activities include teaching basic block coding with Scratch or building a solar car with a Junior Solar Sprint kit. In addition to being a fun experience, getting the name of TSA out at a young age will encourage students to join the club when they are finally in middle school. 

3. Organize a STEM night. In addition to going out to elementary schools to teach STEM topics, you can organize a fun session at your own school. The STEM night can include design challenges that require students to collaborate to develop innovative solutions using the engineering design process. For example, the STEM night at our high school had an ocean theme with challenges like safely moving a mermaid from “contaminated” water to a cleaner environment and a marble run to safely transport passengers to the ocean. 

4. Plan community fundraisers. Whether it is something as simple as a car wash, or an event bigger and more involved like a 5k run, getting together for a worthy cause is an excellent endeavor. Something particularly fun to watch was Conestoga Valley TSA’s holiday light show (shoutout to Mr. Miller for letting us watch it). Community members all gathered to watch the students’ hard work on display. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you promote the fundraiser to people outside of your school as well. Not only will the fundraising event generate funds for your TSA chapter or the ACS, but it will also bring your community together and show support for the club. 

5. Attend school events. Being an avid participant in your school population is vital when it comes to community engagement. Firstly, have your club attend the school activity fair if you have one. It’s the best way to promote your chapter and interact with the school population. Another idea could be going to a basketball game to perform at halftime. If the Engineering Design or the PA-robotics team has any cool projects, consider showing them off.

I hope you all consider exploring some of the opportunities listed in this post or organizing events of your own to engage with your community. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at historian [at] patsa.org.