My first post on this topic dealt with just finding kids to start a group with. You wouldn’t think this is a problem, but it is. Now I’d like to discuss the planning a program for your group.
What exactly do you do with a skeptical kids group anyway? Kids don’t like to sit around and be spoken at, the way we happily do at cons and pubs… my opinion is, you have to get their hands dirty. But even then, you can quickly burn out on ghosts, monsters and aliens. You can’t expect them to sit and listen to a 45 minute presentation on the claims of some psychic. Teens maybe but not younger ones.
You have to decide on your age groups. Skeptikids breaks into two groups, 3-5 and 6-8. The younger group does a lot of hands on science, and the older group looks into crazy claims and paranormal stuff while mentoring the younger groups. My advice is, start out at the age range of your own kids.
(As a side note, we do have plans for teenskeptic.org, which will move into the realm of public policy, product claims and the elements of argument, much like a debate team or model UN.)
As a father of four and all the time commitments that go with that, I can’t possibly run my group by myself. So we have 3-4 planned and scheduled activities, and we have different adults committed to these things. A great way to provide weekly or bi-weekly activities without adult burnout is to spread the workload. If you only have to commit to one activity a month, it’s a lot easier to do.
Some things to consider:
- Astronomy Club / Galaxy Zoo / Citizen Sky / AAVSO
- Project Squirrel
- Environmental Centers and hands on science
- Make Videos
For the older kids:
- Field trips and interviews with a local ghost hunting or UFO hunting group
- Build your own crop circles
- Mentoring younger kids
- Magic night (one night a month learn a new trick)
- Video production
On video production:
This is where you can give a class on a subject that they would never willingly sit down and watch. Instead, help them write, film and edit a video exposing UFOs, or demonstrating some quirky thing about human nature or science. You develop the idea and experiment, they act it out. Kids are absolutely narcissistic, so this ALWAYS works.
The key is to get a schedule, commit to it, and get help. The fastest way to do this is to reach out to the general public, unless there is a thriving skeptic group in your area already.
Next post on this will be on getting into the schools!