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STEM Snacks
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
DEC
14
2015

STEM
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Public-private partnerships and measures of success

By Erin Murphy

The Afterschool Alliance has teamed up with the STEM Education Coalition to host a series of Capitol Hill briefings on topics important to informal and out-of-school time (OST) STEM learning. On Wednesday, Dec. 9th, the organizations held the second briefing of this series titled “Public-Private Partnerships & Measures of Success,” with the support of honorary Congressional hosts Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30). The panelists for this briefing represented individuals with diverse experience in creating strong public-private partnerships, such as those between non-profits, industry, schools, and government for informal and OST STEM learning. The speakers included:

Tyler Chandler, Florida State Director of After-School All Stars, providing comprehensive afterschool programs to low-income youth across the US.

Michael Kaurich, Operations Director of STEMaction, Inc., provides programs to encourage in STEM and STEM careers for Maryland’s youth.

Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President of STEM Policy, Afterschool Alliance

Nick Hutchinson, Executive Director, US2020, matching 1 million STEM mentors with students to improve informal STEM education, by 2020.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science
DEC
14
2015

STEM
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Where to go next with coding: A new resource guide

By Melissa Ballard

As Computer Science Education Week ended on Sunday, we know many of you participated in the Hour of Code, giving your students a fun and easy introduction to computer science. Thinking about what your next steps should be? Check out our new resource guide for computing!

The guide includes curricula, professional development resources, and some background reading. While there’s lots of resources on computer science and coding out there, we put together a curated list just for afterschool educators.

We’ll continue to do more around computing in 2016, so be sure to visit our computing webpage: www.afterschoolalliance.org/STEM_computing.cfm

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learn more about: Science Academic Enrichment
DEC
11
2015

STEM
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Video: The stars of Game Shakers point fans to afterschool STEM learning

By Robert Abare

You might not think of a children’s television show as a way to shatter constricting stereotypes and promote valuable lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among our nation’s kids, but Nickelodeon’s "Game Shakers" is doing just that.

"Game Shakers" follows the story of middle school girls Babe and Kenzie (played by Cree Cicchino and Madisyn Shipman), who use code to create the video game "Sky Whale" for a science project. Their game becomes a surprise commercial success, and the girls soon find themselves the dual managers of a multimillion dollar business. The success of Babe and Kenzie shows young girls that the world of science and technology is not just for boys, and encourages all kids to explore the increasingly important role of STEM in our world.  

In a new video produced in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, the stars of "Game Shakers" encourage their young fans to learn an Hour of Code this Computer Science Education Week (which wraps up today) and to find more resources for computing after school on our updated STEM website. The site features STEM program profiles to help relate what tactics and activities are most effective, and a new Computer Science & Afterschool resource sheet.

The Game Shakers video will hopefully direct legions of young fans and their families to take advantage of these resources, and to embark on a STEM adventure through an afterschool program near them!

DEC
10
2015

STEM
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Guest blog: Hands-on STEM, all month long!

By Melissa Ballard

Written by Katelyn Wamsted, Director of Programs at Girlstart in Austin, TX. Girlstart provides year-round programming for girls and families including afterschool, summer camps, a yearly “Girls in STEM” conference, and community STEM events to get girls interested in STEM at an early age.

Throughout the month of December, Girlstart hosts DeSTEMber: 31 days of STEM fun! DeSTEMber highlights various STEM-related topics through hands-on activities, photos, and videos as part of a month-long program to drive awareness for STEM, showing kids that “STEM is everywhere”.

One of my favorite activities so far is Human Battleship. Fun, hands-on math activities can be hard to come by, but through creating a life-size version of Battleship, students learn about coordinate geometry and practice their spatial thinking skills.

New activities and full lesson plans posted every week at www.destember.org! You can also follow Girlstart on any of our various media channels to stay up-to-date.

Girlstart's mission is to increase girls’ interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through innovative, nationally-recognized informal STEM education programs. We cultivate a culture where risk is rewarded, curiosity is encouraged, and creativity is expected. As a result, Girlstart girls are connected, brave, and resilient. Girlstart makes girls more successful, and inspires them to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science Academic Enrichment
OCT
30
2015

STEM
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Support your STEM work through a major grant from NASA!

By Robert Abare

As an organization that depends on legions of agile thinkers to explore and study our universe, NASA is deeply invested in encouraging robust education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). That’s why NASA’s Office of Education is leading an effort to support STEM education programs through an exciting new grant opportunity.

This opportunity, the “2015 Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitors Centers Plus Other Opportunities” (CP4SMPVC+)—try to pronounce that acronym!—aims to support ambitious STEM learning initiatives, typically spanning multiple years, and which can take root at a variety of educational institutions and youth-serving organizations. The program particularly seeks to reward projects that integrate NASA’s cutting edge research and development activities into curriculum development, teacher preparation, effective teaching practices, out of school activities and educational technology.

Interested in submitting a proposal? Here are some introductory facts you should know, but remember to read through the official grant description to make sure your organization or proposal meets all requirements.

What can I propose?

To study an example of a previously successful proposal, take a look at Girlstart’s project “Informal STEM Education for Girls” (located on page five of the linked document). With support from CP4SMPVC+, Girlstart implemented a new, NASA-rich STEM curriculum for its Girlstart Summer Camp program and Girlstart After School program, which seek to engage young women and their families in STEM learning and career opportunities.

OCT
22
2015

STEM
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Guest blog: EngineerThat! Media Challenge launches on KQED.org

By Rachel Clark

Annelise Wunderlich is the Youth Participation Manager at KQED, which serves the people of Northern California with a community-supported alternative to commercial media .

In the spirit of Lights On Afterschool, KQED welcomes the afterschool community serving middle- and high-school students to join our national EngineerThat! media challenge. From October 22 – January 8, we invite young people to identify engineering problems in their schools, homes, and communities and share their solutions with us via social media. This is a great way for expanded-learning programs across the country to inspire youth to engage with their community, and get involved with real-world problem solving.

EngineerThat! is a simple way to introduce the engineering design process and develop 21st century skills. This is a youth-led activity that is designed to be flexible based on time and resources. Here’s how it works: young people talk with people in their communities to discover problems that can be solved through engineering. They don’t actually have to build a prototype – but they do have to use their imagination and digital media tools to share their solutions. They can do this in the following ways:

  • Create a short video (under 2 mins), image or infographic explaining the problem and their solution
  • Share it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram with the hashtag #EngineerThat

KQED will showcase the most compelling solutions (and the youth who came up with them!) on our website and a public media program. This is an excellent opportunity to partner with public media and a chance for students to engage with community leaders to develop an understanding of challenges in their neighborhoods and come up with youth-driven solutions.  

Find out more here: http://ww2.kqed.org/quest/2015/10/16/engineerthat/

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learn more about: Guest Blog 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!