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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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Snacks by Anita Krishnamurthi
DEC
15
2015

STEM
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How afterschool STEM fared in ESSA

By Anita Krishnamurthi

It seems hard to believe, but we actually have a new education law of the land! The law formerly known as No Child Left Behind is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and afterschool fared very well in this new law. See this blog for details on how afterschool fared generally.

As was the case for so many interests addressed in the bill, the news for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education was generally mixed. The only STEM-specific program administered by the Department of Education—the Math Science Partnership program—was eliminated. The revisions to Title II of the law—which address teacher and educator professional development and where the Math Science Partnership program used to be—leave many of the decisions related to how to support teachers and which teachers to support to state decision makers. 

In the good STEM news column, the new law retains math and science assessment requirements. In addition, states can compete for funds to support STEM educators and establish a STEM Master Teacher Corps. A new “well-rounded education subjects” definition adds engineering and computer science, getting all of the STEM disciplines recognized. (The STEM Education Coalition has done a detailed analysis highlighting the major STEM provisions in each section of ESSA.)

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress ESEA Science
OCT
21
2015

STEM
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Need help speaking afterschool STEM-ish?

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Do you think afterschool programs are a great place to engage kids in learning about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Do you have trouble sometimes convincing others to share your enthusiasm for it? If so, check out our new website: the Afterschool STEM Hub! Not only do we think it’s gorgeous, it has LOTS of tools you might find useful to tell a compelling story and inspire enthusiasm for STEM in afterschool.

The site offers compelling talking points you can download, Powerpoint slides you can present, and infographics you can print, share, post, pin, and tweet. It even features an animation you can use to show why afterschool programs are such crucial partners in STEM education. All of these resources are rooted in research and developed with guidance from the Frameworks Institute, an organization with great expertise in communications and messaging. So you can be assured: we have tested the words, values and metaphors we suggest you use to make a compelling case for afterschool STEM programs. 

The afterschool STEM Hub is a collaboration among afterschool leaders and stakeholders to provide coordinated messaging that impacts advocacy and policy, and that helps ensure the important place of afterschool programs in the STEM learning ecosystem. Led by the Afterschool Alliance, the STEM Hub is funded by the Noyce Foundation and includes the following organizations: 4-H, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Cornell lab of Ornithology, Every Hour Counts, Exploratorium, Girls Inc., National Afterschool Association, National Girls Collaborative Project, Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency (PEAR), Statewide Afterschool Networks (represented by Oregon After School for Kids and Indiana Afterschool Network), Techbridge, The After-School Corporation, University of Virginia, and the YMCA of the USA.

Though the site has just been released, we will continue to update it with new resources through the coming months—so remember to look out for any announcements posted on Afterschool Alliance publications. For now, feel free to click your way to www.afterschoolstemhub.org, grab the resources that work best for you and start speaking STEM-ish today! 

OCT
9
2015

STEM
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STEM Education Act of 2015 signed into law

By Anita Krishnamurthi

H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, has been signed into law by the President of the United States.  This bill is relevant to the afterschool community as it is very supportive of informal science education (which it defines as learning outside of the classroom at places like museums, science centers, and afterschool programs). H.R. 1020 directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to maintain a priority in this area; specifically, it states that the NSF should “continue to award competitive, merit-reviewed grants to support:

  1. research and development of innovative out-of-school STEM learning and emerging STEM environments to improve learning outcomes and engagement in STEM; and
  2. research that advances the field of informal STEM education.

This bill is derived from language that was in the House version of the America COMPETES bill in the 113th Congress.  The Afterschool Alliance provided many comments to Congressional staff and allies on the language around informal STEM in that version, many of which were adopted. The language around STEM education was pulled out and introduced as H.R. 5031 in the 113th Congress and re-introduced as H.R. 1020 in the 114th Congress. This is the version that has now been signed into law and it reflects the increasing recognition of the importance of afterschool STEM programs.  

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learn more about: Federal Policy Legislation POTUS Science
OCT
6
2015

STEM
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A unique way to celebrate Lights On Afterschool: Turn out the lights. (Really!)

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Lights On Afterschool is fast approaching! Are you still looking for an event idea to celebrate afterschool programs?  Perhaps looking for a way to inject a little STEM into it since parents tell us they want STEM programming in afterschool for their kids?  If your answer is yes, you can think about hosting an astronomy night—turn out the lights and have your students and parents look up at the sky to marvel at the wonders of our universe!

The White House is hosting an astronomy night in Washington, D.C. on October 19th and encouraging people all over the country to join in by hosting your own event. If you are interested in doing this, check out the resources available from the Night Sky Network and check to see if there are any amateur astronomy clubs in your area that you can enlist as partners.

If you want to participate, let the White House know about your event and don’t forget to also register it as a Lights On Afterschool event! For more Lights On Afterschool event ideas, check out our case studies from past celebrations.

OCT
5
2015

STEM
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Full STEM Ahead! New America After 3PM special report on STEM released

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Last week, we released our first ever special report on afterschool science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning based on our 2014 America After 3PM survey data. Full STEM Ahead: Afterschool Programs Step Up as Key Partners in STEM Education is the first comprehensive look at parental perceptions of STEM programming offered by afterschool providers and examines demand, access and satisfaction both nationally and by state.

Responding to the national priority on improving STEM education and recognizing that hands-on, inquiry-driven learning is a natural fit for the afterschool setting, afterschool providers have enthusiastically embraced offering STEM learning in afterschool. While observations of the afterschool field have led us to believe that the number of afterschool STEM programs has been on the rise, the America After 3PM data presented in Full STEM Ahead confirms those observations. 

Key findings of the report are as follows:

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learn more about: Science
JUL
15
2015

STEM
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National Research Council releases long-awaited report on successful out-of-school STEM

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a long-awaited report, Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School SettingsThe National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored this report as a follow-up companion study to the Successful K-12 STEM Education report that examined effective approaches to STEM education in schools. 

As afterschool and other out-of-school-time STEM programs have grown in number over the past decade, the interest in measuring their effectiveness and impact has also grown. The recent America After 3PM study revealed that 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs in the United States, up from 6.5 million a decade ago.  Further, 69% of parents with children in afterschool programs say that some form of STEM activities are included in these programs.

NSF charged the Board on Science Education and the NRC Committee on Successful Out-of-School STEM Learning to conduct a landscape study and review and synthesize existing research in order to outline the criteria that policy makers, program developers and other stakeholders can use to identify effective out-of-school STEM settings and programs. More information is available on the project website

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learn more about: Science
JUL
8
2015

STEM
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Afterschool STEM gets big boost from Sen. Shaheen in ESEA bill

By Anita Krishnamurthi

As ESEA debate gets underway on the Senate floor, I am delighted to report that language supporting afterschool programs, providers, and networks has been included in the Senate ESEA bill, S. 1177, the “Every Child Achieves Act”. As many of you know, Senator Shaheen (D-NH) is a strong champion of afterschool and STEM and was widely expected to offer an amendment about afterschool STEM when the Senate began deliberations on ESEA this week. When a floor amendment is offered, there is no guarantee that it will be accepted and adopted.  However, the Senator has been able to include several key provisions supporting afterschool STEM in the main bill language which puts us in a much stronger position going into the floor debate (see the press release).

The language included in Title II Part E “Improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Instruction and Student Achievement” explicitly mentions afterschool in several places.

DEC
16
2014

STEM
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Afterschool programs highlighted in White House Council on Women and Girls report

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The White House Council on Women and Girls recently released a report that examines a number of indicators that contribute to the well-being of women and girls of color, ranging from educational attainment to economic security to health and well-being. Of particular relevance to us, the Council highlights issues such as lagging behind in math and reading scores, school discipline issues, and under-representation in STEM education programs and careers as challenges and obstacles to educational attainment for this population.

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are delighted that the report recognizes afterschool programs for providing unique opportunities for elementary and secondary students in STEM.  One of the programs that the report highlights is the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program, which is well known to many of us in the afterschool field.  The report focuses primarily on their partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA), and lauds their success in attracting and mentoring women and other minority students.  As we have reported before, the ACE Mentor program is extremely successful in that their students, including the female participants, enroll in college engineering programs at double the rate of non-participants.  

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learn more about: NASA POTUS Science