October is a popular month for community events, open houses, and activity nights. A growing trend is STEM Nights, where students and families gather to experience the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Thinking of running your own STEM Night? Here are the top must-haves for a successful STEM-themed special event:

A Theme
Other than the date and location, setting a theme is one of the most important things you must do for a successful STEM Night event. While smorgasbord style events be successful, there is always more cohesion and magic when the event has a theme. Doing in a STEM night in October? Halloween theme! Hoping your students will have an out-of-this-world school year? Space theme! Excited to show off a new makerspace? Engineering theme! By setting a theme for your event, everyone will be working towards a more common mission. It will help focus efforts, and will make planning and implementation much easier.

Students in Charge
Want to run an event that students will love? Then put them in charge! Teachers can serve as guides and facilitators, but do not need to take on time consuming work to help with the event. From marketing to morning announcements, let the students prepare your event to ensure it will be a hit with their peers.

Of course one of the primary missions of your STEM Night is for students to have fun! And what better way to have fun with STEM then through creative STEM games! Games like engineering bingo and STEM Career Taboo are fun and easy ways to engage attendees.

Hands on activities
There’s no better way to show students the wonders of STEM then by having them do it! Set up a variety of stations around the room, ensuring each has the space and materials it might need. Be sure to include hands-on activities that align with the theme of your event. For example, an engineering theme might have stations for building a super sonar machine, or creating a weatherproof bridge!

Create an environment of inquiry and exploration by lining the walls with eye-popping posters. Again, the posters selected should align with the event theme. For example your space STEM Night might have posters for the top 10 most amazing space discoveries, pictures of the planets, and careers in space.

Community Support
Start early in garnering parental and community support. Send out press releases to local newspaper and media outlets to raise awareness for the event and recruit community helpers. Enlist parent volunteers through emails, phone calls, and notes sent home. Ideally, network with local STEM companies and businesses to find guest speakers, donations and word of mouth support.

Most importantly, FUN is the ultimate must-have!

Do you have tips and tricks for running a successful STEM Night? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!