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STEM Snacks
OCT
6

STEM
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Science centers partner with afterschool providers to celebrate STEM at Lights On Afterschool

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Lights On Afterschool, the nationwide celebration of afterschool programs on Oct. 23, is fast approaching!  And this year, we're adding a very exciting component to the celebration—a partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer STEM programming in science centers around the country to celebrate Lights On Afterschool.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Noyce Foundation, we were able to work with ASTC to offer mini-grants of $1500 each to 20 science centers around the nation to form partnerships with afterschool providers in their communities.  They will work together to design and implement an afterschool STEM programming experience as part of their Lights On Afterschool event.  There will be a wide range of programming offered, from physics experiments to family star parties to environmental clean-up efforts.  This initiative reflects our ongoing partnership with ASTC in support of our Commitment to Action made at the Clinton Global Initiative America, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States, bringing together leaders from various sectors to advance a number of domestic objectives, including education and skills development. Our commitment aims to increase partnerships between science centers and afterschool providers as a means to expand the quality and amount of informal STEM education.   

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learn more about: Competition Equity Inside the Afterschool Alliance Science Academic Enrichment Community Partners
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SEP
25

STEM
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Awards to honor young women in computing & technology

By Taylor Moore

Do you know a young woman in your afterschool program with aspirations in computing? Does she enjoy designing, hacking, coding or anything in the world of computing and technology?  The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) has recently announced the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing to honor young women, like the one you may have in mind, who are active and interested in computing and technology and interested in further pursuing their passion in the field.

If chosen as an award recipient, the young woman will be recognized at an award event, receive scholarship and internship opportunities, access to a peer network of technical young women in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community, and various other prices.  Additionally, the award recipients receive $500, a laptop, and a trip to attend the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony on March 7, 2015.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity
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SEP
15

STEM
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New online platform to connect scientists and engineers directly to students

By Taylor Moore

Iridescent has recently released an online platform of STEM curriculum to help scientists and engineers to better connect with students and enable them to create together.  The premise of the platform revolves around three key concepts: curiosity, courage and persistence toward a solution.  Curiosity Machine provides students with access to content and mentoring that is critical in developing 21st century critical thinking skills.  Schools can use Curiosity Machine to allow students to view videos, read instructions on experiments, upload their own videos, answer questions, receive feedback from mentors, and earn badges along the way!  Additionally, the program has one-on-one mentoring support, engineering design challenges based on actual and innovation science and engineering work, and even includes professional development sessions for teachers and staff.  Curiosity Machine creates a community for families, students and mentors to learn together and work toward inspiring children to become inventors, creators, builders and engineers.

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learn more about: Science Youth Development
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SEP
8

STEM
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NASA awards 12 grants to expand informal STEM education

By Taylor Moore

NASA has just awarded $6 million in funding to support STEM opportunities in informal education settings.  Twelve education grants were awarded to informal science institutions like museums, science centers, planetariums and NASA visitor centers to support STEM curricula in afterschool and out-of-school-time projects.

The grants were awarded through NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities (CP4SMP+).  When selecting the projects, NASA looked for STEM projects to infuse cutting-edge NASA research and development activities into curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation and professional development, effective teaching, out-of-school activities, and educational technology.

One winner, the Boston Children’s Museum, is going to work on programs and curriculum focused on out-of-school time (OST) and afterschool.  This project received $241,584 and will be focusing on a project called “Our Sky.”  With resources provided by a partnership with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, “Our Sky” provides children ages 3-10 and their caregivers an educational experience to inspire an appreciation and understanding of earth and space science.

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learn more about: Federal Funding Funding Opportunity NASA Science Sustainability
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SEP
2

STEM
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Girls Who Code receives $1 million from AT&T

By Taylor Moore

Girls Who Code has exploded over the past two years. What started as a pilot program of 20 has quickly grown to a graduating class of 3,000 girls at clubs and camps across the country.  Offering a summer immersion program and afterschool clubs, Girls Who Code seeks to introduce 6th to 12th-grade girls to computer science and the tech industry.  Girls learn how to use Python, Javascript, CSS and HTML and visit technology companies like AT&T AdWorks Lab, Google and Foursquare.   

In an August graduation ceremony for this summer’s program in New York City, AT&T announced a $1 million contribution to Girls Who Code. This generous gift will allow Girls Who Code to expand afterschool clubs and their summer immersion program to more cities, including Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

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learn more about: Science Sustainability
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AUG
28

STEM
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New handout: Afterschool makes STEM stick!

By Sophie Papavizas

Check out our newest resource, a visually appealing four-pager that makes the case for afterschool STEM by pulling together research on the importance of STEM learning in afterschool.  It demonstrates how afterschool is a critical component in a child’s overall education, and describes how afterschool STEM uniquely impacts youth.

We hope you’ll find this handout useful in your advocacy efforts with elected officials, funders and potential community partners.  When accompanied by a compelling description of your own program and evidence of your program’s impact, you can help stakeholders understand that afterschool must be an integral partner in any efforts to reform or improve STEM education.  In addition to the Web version, you can also download a high-resolution print version, which prints as a booklet on 11"x17" paper.  Make sure to adjust your printer settings to print double-sided, flipped on the top edge.

The handout is based on the papers “Examining the impact of afterschool STEM programs” (July 2014) and “Defining youth outcomes for STEM learning in afterschool” (January 2013).

If you’re looking for more guidance on effective advocacy, check out our advocacy toolkit, “Making the case for STEM afterschool.”

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learn more about: Advocacy Media Outreach Science
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AUG
27

STEM
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After passing the House, STEM Education Act moves to Senate

By Sophie Papavizas

The bipartisan STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031 introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), passed the House last month and is now in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill has three goals:

  1. It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science
  2. Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities
  3. Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields

Of particular interest to the out-of-school field, the bill gives a directive to NSF to continue awarding grants and using funds to support informal and out-of-school STEM learning with the goal of increasing engagement in STEM and improving learning outcomes.  Grants and funding would support existing and new programs in places such as museums and science centers.

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learn more about: Congress Education Reform Federal Policy Legislation School Improvement Science Academic Enrichment
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AUG
4

STEM
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Guest blog: Help develop evaluation tools for STEM out-of-school-time programs!

By Melissa Ballard

This post was written by Amy Grack Nelson, an evaluator and researcher in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning. 

 

 

 

Teamwork and collaboration are essential 21st century skills and becoming increasingly vital to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Afterschool programs are important environments for youth from diverse backgrounds to develop the teamwork and collaboration skills they need to enter and prosper in the STEM workforce. To help evaluators and practitioners evaluate the development of these skills, the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota are conducting research to develop surveys to measure teamwork and collaboration skills in STEM out-of-school-time (OST) programs. Both institutions have a long history in their commitment to STEM and afterschool education and will be working closely with STEM OST programs throughout the research process to ensure the final surveys are useful and relevant to the needs of a broad range of programs.

Before we can create surveys to evaluate these skills, we need to understand how STEM OST programs define teamwork and collaboration and how they are teaching these skills. We are inviting STEM OST educators to participate in an interview with a member of our research team about the teamwork and collaboration skills addressed in their program.  The interviews will last up to an hour and will take place over the phone. Educators will receive a $25 VISA pre-loaded card in appreciation for their time.  

We are looking for educators from a wide range of STEM OST programs that reach middle and high school youth. If you are interested in participating in this research, please fill out an interest form. We’ll then choose a sample of educators from those that express interest to help ensure we talk to a diversity of STEM OST programs.  Please fill out an interest form by Friday, Aug. 15.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Amy Grack Nelson, Senior Evaluation & Research Associate at the Science Museum of Minnesota at 651-221-4575 or agnelson@smm.org.  

Thank you in advance for your help!

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learn more about: Evaluations Guest Blog Science Community Partners
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