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STEM Snacks
MAR
13

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: March 2015

By Melissa Ballard

In this month’s batch of research briefs from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project, we’ve got new research on scaling up effective education programs; understanding how youth learn across in-school and out-of-school settings; and more! One brief from Afterschool Alliance VP of STEM Policy Anita Krishnamurthi covers research on why and when we become interested in STEM.

Follow the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook


Exploring the causes of initial interest and retention of interest in STEM

Researchers Maltese, Melki, and Wiebke investigated when lasting interest in STEM is sparked and how it is maintained by comparing the experiences of adults who did and did not persist in STEM. Both groups said that they became interested in STEM early, usually by Grade 6. Those who persisted in STEM were more likely than those who did not to say that they had always been interested in STEM. Parents and teachers were early influences for those who stayed in STEM fields.

KEYWORDS: Families, Learning progressions, Motivation.

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learn more about: Science
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MAR
6

STEM
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Take the STAR_Net STEM Professionals Survey!

By Dan Gilbert

Do you do STEM activities in your programs?  And have you participated in a Community of Practice or other professional learning group?  The STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) is revamping their Community of Practice for librarians interested in STEM activities and STEM education professionals, and wants your feedback!

Take the survey now!  It should only take about seven to ten minutes to complete and will help to determine what works and what doesn’t work in a Community of Practice.

The NSF-funded STAR Library Education Network (Science-Technology Activities and Resources) is the product of collaboration between the Afterschool Alliance, the Space Science Institute’s (SSI) National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).  In addition to the Community of Practice, the STAR_Net project provides museum-quality exhibits to public libraries.  If you’d like your local library to host an exhibit, see how you can get involved here.

For more information, visit www.STARnetLibraries.org or www.community.STARnetlibraries.org.

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FEB
27

STEM
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Opportunity to partner with a library

By Dan Gilbert

Children building a “ball contraption” in the Discover Tech exhibit at Mary Wood Weldon Public Library. From: http://www.starnetlibraries.org/gallery.html

We’ve talked a lot about how science centers and museums can be great partners, and we wanted to let you know that libraries can be great partners as well.  That’s why the Afterschool Alliance is excited to introduce a great new partnership opportunity around STEM learning!

STAR_Net, a national initiative to bring museum-quality science exhibits into libraries, was developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute, and has extended the invitation to libraries around the country to apply to host one of three interactive STEM exhibitsDiscover SpaceDiscover Earthand Discover Tech.

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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FEB
24

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STEM Education Act reintroduced in House and headed to the floor today

By Sophie Papavizas

Congress has returned from the President’s Day recess, and while the Senate grapples with the Department of Homeland Security funding bill, the House will consider several education bills.  Among those bills is the bipartisan STEM Education Act (H.R. 102), which was reintroduced in the House on February 20, 2015 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  The bill is considered non-controversial and passed under suspension of the rules last Congress with widespread bipartisan support but saw no action once passed to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  The Afterschool Alliance wrote about the STEM Education Act last August when it was first introduced.

The STEM Education Act is a short bill with three main 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; and
  3. Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields.

Let Congress know you support their commitment to afterschool STEM by contacting them today to discuss the STEM Education Act, the Supporting Afterschool STEM Act and the Afterschool for America’s Children Act!

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Science
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FEB
23

STEM
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Cognizant awards 34 grants to provide Maker programming in out-of-school time

By Sophie Papavizas

Cognizant has announced its grantees for the 2015 Making the Future program.  The program provides grants to community based organizations to run hands-on, Maker Movement-inspired programs in afterschool or summer camp settings.  This year, the 34 total grants will provide Maker programming to 5,000 students across 54 sites.  Working in partnership with the Maker Education Initiative and the New York Hall of Science , Cognizant committed in 2014 to providing 1.5 million hours of making experiences to 25,000 youth in over 200 communities by the end of 2017. Maker programs allow to students to be exposed to a range of STEM activities in informal and creative environments.

For more information about Maker spaces and Maker programs in afterschool check out our webinar series on making in afterschool—part 1part 2, and part 3.  And stay tuned for a spring webinar about equity and making with the Exploratorium’s Afterschool Tinkering NetworkCommunity Science Workshops and the Computer Clubhouse!

The 2015 grantees are:

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FEB
18

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Guest blog: Help advance STEM education by participating in a brief survey

By Rachel Clark

Kelly Riedinger is the Director of Research and Evaluation at David Heil & Associates.

While there is a wealth of research-based knowledge in STEM education, there is currently no easily accessible, user-friendly resource for practitioners that bridges formal and informal (i.e., out-of-school) settings.  The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association for Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) received an NSF Grant (Award No. 1420262) to develop, pilot, and evaluate a new resource that seeks to better connect practitioners in these settings with each other, and the rapidly growing research and knowledge base about STEM learning.  The proposed new resource will highlight successful curricula and programs that are based on STEM education research across formal and informal, out-of-school STEM education communities.

In collaboration with the NSTA and ASTC, David Heil & Associates, Inc. (DHA) is conducting a front-end study to gain insight regarding the potential for such a resource.  As part of this study, we are administering a survey to gather data and feedback. If you are a STEM afterschool program provider, we would like to invite you to participate in this survey.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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FEB
12

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Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Act reintroduced in House

By Sophie Papavizas

Representatives Paul Tonko, Joe Kennedy, David McKinley, and Rodney Davis have reintroduced the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act (H.R. 823), which seeks to amend several pieces of legislation to remove the barriers at the federal level for K-12 engineering education by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Education Science Reform Act.

The legislation:

  • Ensures that engineering design skills are part of science standards in each state and authorizes the use of State Assessment Grants to integrate engineering into state science tests
  • Sets aside a portion of Title II funds for STEM professional development for STEM professional development through the Teacher and Principal Training and Recruitment Fund
  • Amends the Education Science Reform Act of 2002 to authorize the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to expand the scope of their research activities from sole math and science to include all STEM subjects with a focus on identifying best practices and promising innovations
  • Amends the Math and Science Partnership Program to include all STEM subjects encompassing engineering and computer science

For the afterschool community it is important to note that the bill also amends the section of Title 4 relating to 21st Century Community Learning Centers by expanding the current priorities of the program from “math and science” to STEM to allow the use of funds for afterschool programs in subjects such as engineering, technology and computer science instead of just mathematics and traditional science subjects like biology, chemistry and physics.  A similar change to include STEM is also included in the After School for America’s Children Act introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer last week.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Science
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FEB
10

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Supporting Afterschool STEM Act reintroduced in House and Senate

By Sophie Papavizas

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) have reintroduced a bill today aimed at providing the supports afterschool practitioners need to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.  The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act will create a grant program that state and regional afterschool and STEM networks can tap into to help afterschool providers in their areas give students engaging and high-quality STEM learning experiences.

The new bill has minor changes from original bill, also sponsored by Sen. Shaheen in the 113th Congress.  The Afterschool Alliance wrote a detailed blog post last June describing the bill and what it means for the afterschool community. We commend Sen. Shaheen for continuing to be a champion for funding of support systems necessary to implement high-quality afterschool STEM programs in each state.  We will continue to work with Sen. Shaheen as well as the afterschool and STEM education communities to realize the vision of this legislation.

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