We loved the message of this recent GE ad, “Childlike Imagination.” Already, it has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. Earlier this month we blogged about the importance of mentors for inspiring girls and other populations underrepresented in STEM. Working moms in STEM surely inspire their own daughters, and we hope they seek opportunities to inspire more girls in their community!
To celebrate last week’s national Engineers Week, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar featuring three incredible afterschool programs engaging students in engineering, computing and technology education. We were joined by:
- Jen Joyce, Director of Professional Development at Techbridge in Oakland, CA
- Andrew Coy, Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD
- Maureen Psaila-Dombrowski, Program Coordinator at the Santa Fe Institute, representing Project GUTS
All three were featured in our latest issue brief on computing and engineering, and they were able to provide a clearer picture on what has made their afterschool programs successful. Program profiles in our Afterschool STEM Storybook provide additional information. You can watch the full recording and view the slides on our webinar archives page. Below is a quick re-cap!
There has been a lot of talk recently about learning across settings and constructing or cultivating “ecosystems” for learning. This refers to the notion that there are many influences and supports a young person draws on; when we put the learner at the center rather than the institutions where learning might occur, we see that schools, while crucially important, are not the only player in this system. While the notion of such “learning ecosystems” has been around for many decades, it's gaining renewed attention as we try to truly rethink how we approach (STEM) education improvement. Afterschool programs are very much at the heart of this debate.
As part of my work to highlight the potential of afterschool programs as partners in STEM education, I have been part of a few recent efforts to increase the discussion of this idea. We hope that we can foster a robust debate and change some of the policies and funding streams to allow such ecosystems to thrive. But first, we have a lot of work to do to think through what this might look like and what issues we need to consider.
January’s National Mentoring Month celebrated the work of thousands of adults who make a difference in young people’s lives by offering stable relationships to support their academic and social development. The initiative also sought to raise awareness for the continued need for mentors. A new report from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found a significant mentoring gap, particularly for at-risk youth.
STEM-specific mentors are especially important to break down stereotypes about who practices STEM and to demonstrate the diversity in career options. The White House has recognized the need for more STEM professionals to mentor youth, which resulted in the US2020 initiative, calling on companies to allow their employees to volunteer as mentors.
In other big news, the Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative was launched last month, and to-date almost 45,000 have taken the pledge! In the near future, MWM plans to offer an online platform to provide STEM professionals with tools to become effective mentors and to connect with girl-serving youth organizations. Several groups working in the out-of-school-time space are official partners—Girls, Inc., 4-H, YWCA,Girlstart, the National Girls Collaborative Project and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.
By Jodi Grant
Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) Connect A Million Minds (CAMM) campaign is once again sparking the imagination of children and adults—connecting the hottest technology and trends to science. In a partnership with the New York Hall of Science and cable broadcasters, last weekend Connect A Million Minds used the power of television to inspire kids across New York City.
Renting a building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, TWC and CAMM turned the warehouse into a museum featuring the hottest technology in the cable industry today.
My daughters and I joined 350 students from Boys and Girls Clubs from around the city. Highlights included HBO’s Game of Thrones demonstrating Oculus Rift—a next generation virtual reality headset to climb the wall at Castle Black. The Food Network showed electricity can be conducted through dough, allowing the kids to create their own lighting design embedded in the dough.
And, my own favorite, Al Jazeera demonstrated a new exoskeleton that allowed a woman who had been paralyzed for 18 years to walk.
It was an extraordinary event that once again taught our children that science is cool, fun and necessary not just to entertain us but to make our lives better.
It’s completely free, and just like the 1-hour activity, it’s self-guided (w/video lectures by stars like Bill Gates and Chris Bosh), and features artwork from popular games Angry Bird and Plants vs. Zombies. It also includes “unplugged” activities for students to work collaboratively in groups with no computer at all.
It also comes complete with a free, online information sessions to help get you started. And an educator dashboard allows you to easily track student performance and send them a screenshot when they’re stuck on certain levels.
Sign up now to continue to help your students learn these life-changing skills!
Get your program recognized as a leader in STEM learning! Change the Equation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led coalition focused on advancing STEM literacy, is reopening STEMworks. The database is the premier tool for business leaders and other funders to identify and support exemplary programs that boost STEM interest and learning in the U.S.
Who’s eligible? Any STEM learning program that serves pre-K through 12th grade students and teachers, either in or out of school, is encouraged to apply for admission.* Each submission will be reviewed by WestEd, an independent, nonprofit research, development, and service organization, which will provide detailed and confidential feedback to each applicant on strengths and weaknesses of the application.