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STEM Snacks
JAN
27

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: January 2015

By Melissa Ballard

Interested in what current research in education is saying about STEM learning?  Don’t have time to keep up with it all?  We hear you!

We’ve been a part of the Relating Research to Practice project for a while now, and we think it’s a fantastic resource.  Along with a group of researchers from the Exploratorium, the University of Washington and Kings College London, we monitor more than 10 peer-reviewed journals in science education, museum studies and the learning sciences.

Then, we write short briefs intended for educators who work in afterschool and summer programs, at science centers and museums, and in other out-of-school time settings.  The briefs are written with the interests, needs, and institutional settings of these educators in mind, with the hope that they'll be used to inform professional development, discussion, reflection and practice.

So whether you’re interested in equity, identity or environmental education—there’s something for you!

Want to get the monthly updates in your inbox? Register on the RR2P website and elect to receive the monthly digests.  And be sure to follow the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook!

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learn more about: Science
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JAN
23

STEM
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Afterschool STEM in the Senate ESEA working draft

By Sophie Papavizas

Last week, the Afterschool Alliance published a blog post highlighting the elimination of funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization working draft.  Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (know as the STEM fields) are also missing from the bill.  The last reauthorization, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), included a single competitive grant program dedicated exclusively to STEM at the Department of Education.   The program, named the Math and Science Partnership Program (Title II. B), was a major source of funding for professional development of math and science teachers in some states but is not included in Chairman Alexander’s current working draft.

In a letter to Senate and House Committee leadership, James Brown of the STEM Education Coalition expressed two priorities for STEM in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.  The first is to continue to include science in the testing and accountability framework.  The second is to include a dedicated Federal funding stream for STEM-related activities.  With the accountability system’s focus on reading and math, many schools are spending less time on science and diverting funding to preparation for high-stakes tests.  Computer science and engineering are completely absent from many schools.

Afterschool programs have long stepped up to the plate to fill this gap, offering hands-on, quality learning experiences for students in a variety of STEM subjects.  The Afterschool Alliance has highlighted some of these programs in our STEM Storybook.  We need more investments in STEM education and in afterschool to ensure that our students are prepared for STEM careers.  Let your representatives know—check out our advocacy toolkit and the Afterschool Alliance ESEA reauthorization action alert.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Science
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JAN
20

STEM
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Guest blog: Student and families coding & making together

By Melissa Ballard

Ricarose Roque is a PhD candidate with the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.  She leads the Family Creative Learning project, a program that engages whole families to learn together with creative technologies.  She is also a member of the MIT Scratch Team, which designs and develops the Scratch programming language and online community for kids.  Previously, she helped to coordinate the Project GUTS afterschool program in Chicago, IL and worked on other educational technology projects such as StarLogo TNG, a programming and simulation environment for kids. 

With our rapidly changing world, how can we engage our youth and our communities as creators and inventors to shape an increasingly digital society?  I believe that engaging whole families in creative learning experiences with technology can build a necessary network of support as youth participate and pursue their interests in an ever-changing landscape.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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JAN
13

STEM
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Successful science center partnerships for Lights On Afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

This past October, 20 science centers and afterschool programs across the U.S. partnered up to co-host a STEM-themed Lights On Afterschool event in their community. Most partners had previously been interested in working together, but hadn’t yet found the right opportunity to do so. We worked with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer a $1,500 mini-grant that would allow each science center-afterschool pair to make the first steps in what we hoped to be a continuing partnership.

After hearing back from all the grantees, we’re happy to report that the initiative saw many successes! An average of 190 children and 50 adults attended each event, participating in a variety of hands-on science, engineering, and “maker”-style activities. Science center and afterschool partners were able to learn more about each other’s work and find common ground. Many of the Statewide Afterschool Networks and city intermediaries lent a hand, inviting local policy makers and other VIP’s.

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learn more about: Competition Events and Briefings Science State Networks Academic Enrichment Community Partners
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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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DEC
16

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 Obama Science
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DEC
8

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Celebrate computer science education week with the "Hour of Code"

By Melissa Ballard

We live in a world surrounded by technology.  And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works.  Computer science is foundational for all students today—it’s about teaching students to create technology, not just how to use it.  Yet 90% of schools don’t teach it.  Let’s change that!

This week, Dec. 8-12, is Computer Science Education week.  Afterschool programs can play a huge role in introducing students to computer science. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science
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NOV
6

STEM
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Guest Blog: Recycling Awareness--There's Work to Be Done!

By Sophie Papavizas

This blog post was contributed by Laura Batt, director of educational programs at JASON Learning, an exploration-based organization that links students to real science and scientists. Laura works in JASON's Immersion Learning division, which focuses on bringing the thrill of scientific discovery to students in Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, 21st Century Learning Centers, and other out-of-school settings.

These days more people than ever drop their used bottles, cans, and paper into recycling bins. The benefits of doing so are well-known: recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and saves energy, to name a few. But despite the great progress toward making this kind of recycling commonplace, there's much more than we can do to give other types of products and materials a second life. To help get the word out, JASON Learning has partnered with industry leaders to create two contests that challenge youth to find creative ways to generate awareness about some other recycling efforts that are not so well-known.

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learn more about: Competition Guest Blog Science Academic Enrichment Youth Development Community Partners
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