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STEM Snacks
FEB
11
2016

STEM
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How did afterschool STEM fare in the President's budget proposal?

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Another year, another budget. But this time, a final budget request from this President. So let’s break it down and see how STEM education, and specifically STEM education in afterschool, fares in this budget request.

Just like last year, the overall request for STEM education across the federal science mission agencies is $3 billion. This includes everything from K-12 to graduate education. For more details, you can see the STEM education fact sheet from the White House.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Education and Human Resources Directorate, which funds most of the STEM education programs at NSF, will receive an 8.3% increase to $952.86M. Of this, the one dedicated funding stream that targets informal science education and is used to fund afterschool STEM programming—the Advancing Informal STEM Education (AISL) program—will receive $62.5M, which is level-funded from the FY2016 estimate. The budget proposal would continue the AISL focus on supporting research projects that utilize informal learning environments in novel ways to engage students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Another program that is often used to provide afterschool STEM programs is the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which is funded by H-1B visa fees. This program is also level-funded at $25M. NSF is also committing $120M over five years in the new Computer Science for All initiative to enable rigorous and engaging computer science (CS) education in schools all across the country. It is as yet unclear if any of this funding can be utilized by afterschool programs although the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program will work with NSF to increase awareness of high-quality CS resources for afterschool programs.

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learn more about: Budget Congress Obama Science
JAN
29
2016

STEM
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Encourage your female high school students to try coding this summer!

By Erin Murphy

Girls Who Code has just opened applications for their FREE Summer Immersion Program, a seven-week introduction to computer science for 10th and 11th grade girls. If you have girls who are or might be interested in coding or STEM, please encourage them to apply! No prior experience is required.

During the program, participants connect coding to their passions, explore career opportunities within the world of computer science and engineering, and join a supportive and diverse community of girls who are passionate about coding.

Girls Who Code will be hosting 18 Summer Immersion Programs in the following cities:

  • Atlanta, GA (new!)
  • Austin TX (new!)
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Newark, NJ
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Emeryville, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Redwood City, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Ramon, CA
  • Santa Clara, CA

Though the program itself is free, additional transportation stipends and need-based scholarships are available to support students who qualify.
Applications are due March 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM PST.

JAN
21
2016

STEM
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The latest research in how policy is influencing STEM learning

By Erin Murphy

With the end of 2015 came large victories for afterschool. The passing of the new Every Student Succeeds Act secured the authorization of the 21st CCLC programs for the next four years, and the passing of the FY2016 omnibus spending bill increased funds for 21st CCLC by $15 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The omnibus also includes funding increases for education, health and human services, child care, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), all of which contribute to the development of high-quality out-of-school programs.

With education policy on our minds, we wanted to draw your attention to these new research briefs from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project outlining the influence of education policy on K-12 STEM education.

High-stakes tests and ripple effects for science education

For almost two decades, strict accountability measures for schools have been in place across the country. In this study, Anderson investigated the effect of accountability on K–12 science instruction. Looking across multiple studies, he found that curricula have narrowed, less time is being dedicated to science, teacher morale is lower, and expectations for disadvantaged students have increased.

KEYWORDS: EvaluationPolicyTeaching

JAN
14
2016

STEM
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Travel to a research conference with the R + P Fellowship

By Erin Murphy

The Research + Practice Collaboratory works to build relationships across research and practice by increasing collaboration between STEM educators and educational researchers. To support educators interested in building these connections, the R + P Collaboratory is offering a 2016 R+P travel fellowship of up to $2000, allowing afterschool and summer educators and researchers to attend a 2016 educational conference where they can meet and learn from other STEM educators and researchers.

Afterschool and summer educators may be interested in applying to attend any of the following conferences to meet other educators, engage in educational research, and explore communities of practice:

How to Apply:

Afterschool and summer learning educators, as well as researchers working in these fields, are all encouraged to apply. The application is due by Friday Feb. 12.

If you have questions about the application process contact the R + P Collaboratory at contact@researchandpractice.org

DEC
18
2015

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: December 2015

By Melissa Ballard

In our final round-up of research briefs for 2015 from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project, we’ve got new research on developing students’ critical eye toward media, helping students address their fears about science, and using science infographics in the classroom. There are also two policy-related briefs from the Afterschool Alliance—one on the pathways STEM workers take to reach their current careers, and another on how state science standards address engineering.

Get more frequent updates by following the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook

Reading between the lines

Developing the ability to read and critically assess science-themed media reports is of great importance, given the media’s pervasive and powerful influence on people’s beliefs and behaviors. This Oliveras, Márquez, and Sanmartí study examines a technique designed to develop high school students’ critical reading abilities. Findings suggest a progression from blind belief toward the ability to draw conclusions based on scientific information.

KEYWORDS:  Argumentation, Scientific practice, Scientific reasoning

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learn more about: Science
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

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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

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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