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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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MAR
27

STEM
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Guest Blog: Free STEM career role model webcast

By Melissa Ballard

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 out-of-school-time division, Immersion Learning, which focuses on developing multi-media ocean science curricula.

Ever wondered how to get a job designing video games? Or what it feels like to swim with sharks? Or what it takes to be a rocket scientist? For answers to these questions and more, JASON Learning invites you to participate in our free, live, interactive webcasts with career role models in STEM .
The mission of JASON Learning, a nonprofit managed by Sea Research Foundation in partnership with the National Geographic Society, is to inspire and educate kids everywhere through real science and exploration. One of our focus areas is inspiring kids to pursue careers in STEM. According to the 2010 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, two reasons kids feel discouraged from pursuing careers in STEM fields are 1) a lack of understanding of what people in the fields do and 2) not knowing anyone who works in the fields. Although we at JASON do take some kids on actual scientific expeditions through our National Argonaut program, taking the 1 million kids we serve each year would be a bit impractical. So we do the next best thing — invite them all to tune in to our live webcasts with real STEM professionals. If you have struggled with finding STEM role models for your youth, you don’t need to worry any longer—we bring the role models to you!
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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings Guest Blog Science Community Partners
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MAR
18

STEM
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Resource round-up: girls in STEM

By Melissa Ballard

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to recognize the incredible work being done in the afterschool field to encourage and support girls in STEM. Below are a selection of recent publications and a list of girl-serving afterschool and summer programs actively working on the best ways to engage girls in STEM learning.

And for a bit of history, all this month, the National Girls Collaborative Project is highlighting women who have made and are currently making a significant impact in the STEM fields.

What resources would you add to this list? Add your comments below or send us a tweet @afterschool4all!

Best Practices
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learn more about: Science
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MAR
12

STEM
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Computing 101 for afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

At the recent National AfterSchool Association (NAA) Annual Convention , I co-presented with Irene Lee, an expert in computer science education, on how afterschool programs are engaging kids in computing. Irene runs two computing afterschool programs in New Mexico, Project GUTS and GUTS y Girls, and works on several initiatives with the Computer Science Teachers Association. Project GUTS was the winner of our 2013 Afterschool STEM Impact Awards!

Computing and computer science education have been hot topics in the news. Recently, we released an issue brief, “Computing and Engineering in Afterschool,” and hosted a lively webinar on the topic.

In our conference session at NAA, we talked about what computing is, what afterschool programs are doing with computing, and some tips to get started. Interested in Computing 101 for afterschool? Check out our presentation slides!

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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings
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MAR
7

POLICY
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New House Budget Committee report fails to recognize recent 21st CCLC research and effectiveness

By Erik Peterson

On March 3, just one day before the president released his FY2015 budget proposal, the House Budget Committee issued a report on federal spending related to federal antipoverty efforts entitled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later.  Among the 92 federal programs reviewed in the report is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.   

The Budget Committee report seeks to examine the effectiveness of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty" that was launched 50 years ago. According to the report, there are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans, including education and job-training programs, food-aid programs and housing programs.

The report does include a brief entry on the 21st CCLC initiative, the only coordinated federal effort that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered by local schools and community-based organizations. 21st CCLC programs provide students attending high-poverty schools with academic enrichment activities; a broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program such as hands-on experiments to excite children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), access to physical activity, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, opportunities to be creative, and technology education programs; as well as literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program.  In addition, afterschool programs provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, and nutritious snacks and meals. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Evaluations Federal Policy Obama
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MAR
7

STEM
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Guest Blog: Quality afterschool STEM necessitates quality teaching and learning

By Melissa Ballard

Jeff Davis is the Program Director of STEM in OST Programs at the California AfterSchool Network.  This post originally appeared on the Click2SciencePD blog on Nov. 28, 2013.

 

 

 

The Expanding Minds and Opportunities compendium highlights persuasive evidence on the effectiveness of expanded learning (afterschool, summer, inter-session, etc.) opportunities.  In one article, the authors state:

“…Quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities work.  We know that quality expanded learning programs are associated with increased academic performance, increased attendance in school, significant improvement in behavior and social and emotional development, and greater opportunities for hands-on learning in important areas that are not typically available during the school day” (Peterson, Fowler, and Dunham, p. 357).

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Networks Youth Development
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MAR
5

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - March 5, 2014

By Luci Manning

U.S. Naval Academy Workshops for Girls in Middle School Build Interest in Math, Sciences (Washington Post, District of Columbia)
In an effort to encourage middle school girls to get excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, the U.S. Naval Academy hosted workshops last week to give girls hands-on learning opportunities.  At the event, girls dissected a sheep’s heart, launched straw rockets, and navigated Lego robots through a maze. Lacey, an Annapolis seventh-grader, told the Washington Post that the bioterrorism workshop was “different from my regular science class in school, I like to see how science works in the real world and how important it is.” The Naval Academy has hosted girls-only events since 2007 to build interest in STEM fields.  

Barking Up the Right Tree (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)
Reading just got a little more fun for kids who attend the YMCA BARKS (Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk) afterschool program.  Thanks to a new partnership between the Suffolk Humane Society and the Suffolk YMCA, 39 students are able to boost their reading levels by reading out loud to therapy dogs. Rick Matthews, district vice president of the YMCA of South Hampton, told the Virginian-Pilot the program is “all about building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.”

MPS Program Uses Hip-hop, Performance to Boost Academics (Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin)
A hip-hop afterschool program at Sherman Park’s Washington High School gives students the opportunity to tap into their creative side and the confidence to apply their talents in the classroom.  Dave Olsen and Jeremy Bryan, The Figureheads, founded the educational rap group in partnership with Arts @ Large, a nonprofit dedicated to growing arts education in Milwaukee Public Schools. The Figureheads told the Journal Sentinel that they want the students to voice what is going on in their lives, and to express who they are and what they want to be. The students then combine their emotional testimony with technological skills like creating beats, recording lyrics and adding videos.

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learn more about: Science Arts Literacy
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FEB
26

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - February 26, 2014

By Luci Manning

Cut out Junk Food Ads in Schools, Government Says (Associated Press, National)
Yesterday, first lady Michelle Obama announced that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association will serve more fruits and vegetables at afterschool programs and ensure kids get 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day. The announcement was part of the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Mrs. Obama said “This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad," the Associated Press reports.

After-School Program Life-Changing for Students (Desoto Times, Mississippi)
Later Gator, the new afterschool program at Lake Cormorant Elementary, offers a “life-changing experience” for its students, the Desoto Times reports.  Dr. Margaret Boyd,  Lake Cormorant Elementary school principal and founder of Later Gator, said she started the program to help “working parents whose jobs often prevent them from helping children with their homework.”

Empowerment Circle Expands Horizons (Marion Star, Ohio)
Members of the Girls Empowerment Circle at Grant Middle School and Marion Harding High School are learning about dating violence so they can educate themselves and other students about healthy relationships.  The group, which is funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, is comprised of about 13 to 15 girls who are dedicated to helping their peers make smart life decisions. Not only do they help others by providing important information and resources, but organizer Rosalind Burks explains to the Marion Star that the program encourages girls to set goals for themselves, engage in community service and to continue their education after graduating from high school.

STEM Pilot Exposes Young to Tech, Science Careers (Journal-News, Ohio)
Elementary and junior high students in Hamilton will be able to enjoy a new afterschool program focused primarily on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education starting next month.  Tyrome Bembry, founder of the new pilot program STEM2Dream program, told the Journal-News that the program is targeting kids from an under-served neighborhood because “STEM education will give them the ability to dream.  It’s a tool they can use to fight the war on poverty.”

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FEB
25

POLICY
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Reps. Kildee, DeLauro introduce bill to strengthen support of afterschool and summer learning programs

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday evening Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act in the House of Representatives, HR 4086.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill is companion legislation to S. 326 introduced previously in the Senate. A summary of the legislation is available here.

The House bill:                     

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education. 
  • Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement; better alignment with state learning objectives; and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.
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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Legislation
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