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MAR
4

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  March 4, 2015

By Luci Manning

All ACEs for Students as They Earned Scholarships (Polk County Democrat, Florida)

At the ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) afterschool mentoring program annual banquet, half a dozen students won scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 each. Teams comprised of the 30 students in the program made presentations to judges on their project for the year – a remodeling of the Bartow High School Culinary Arts Academy, complete with a model using architectural LEGO bricks. The teams were judged on their exterior scale model, their concept level drawings, the use of sustainable elements, the structural narrative and the proposed building schedule. Culinary Arts Academy instructor Rosalind Chan was impressed with the students’ ideas. “I love all the designs and see how any one of them could make our facilities so much better,” she told the Polk County Democrat. “They all did a great job and provided solutions to all the problems we proposed to them.”

Africa, Overlooked by Syllabus, Is Focus of Club (Riverdale Press, New York)

By the end of seventh grade, Whitney Wyche, whose family is of African descent, had learned about Ancient Greece and Rome, British kings and French monarchs – but not about African civilizations. When she heard about a new afterschool program focused on African history, she signed up. “I thought it would be great to see where I come from,” she told the Riverdale Press. Each week, about 10 students meet to discuss everything from African history to current events. While most of the elementary school curriculum focuses on the slave trade and other tragic elements of Africa’s history, the class is a place to dispel misconceptions. The program will culminate with a week-long trip to Ghana in the spring, which students have been preparing for by learning about Ghanaian culture and communicating with pen pals.

Boyle Teens Flip Out to Teach KSD Students (Danville Advocate-Messenger, Kentucky)

The room is anything but quiet with squealing students running and preparing for their afterschool gymnastics class at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. The elementary-age program is led by Boyle County High School sophomore Ellie Begley and junior Maddi Karsner. “It’s a great opportunity for the Boyle County students to work with our students – it’s a cultural exchange,” KDS staff interpreter Sarah Williams told the Advocate-Messenger. The teens rely heavily on the help of interpreters, parents and teachers to communicate with the children, but they’re learning some words and phrases in American Sign Language from the students. The program has helped the KSD students gain confidence, stamina and much more.

Gift Buoys Tutoring Program (Clayton News-Star, North Carolina)

Local philanthropist Durwood Stephenson recently donated six computers to the afterschool Next Level Tutoring program at First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield. More than 30 students of all ages come to First Missionary for help with their homework. First Missionary also works with a food bank to feed kids and has woven exercise into its afterschool program with help from the U.S. Tennis Association. Pastor Larry Honeyblue said the goal of the program is to reduce poverty by making sure children succeed in school and receive the education they need to thrive. “Believe it or not, if you educate a child, they’ll change their outlook because their opportunities change,” he told the Clayton News-Star. “Doors open that wouldn’t open, and it makes children feel better about themselves.” 

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment
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FEB
25

POLICY
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Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act (HR 1042) in the House of Representatives.  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 was announced at an event in Flint, Mich. last week and is companion legislation to bipartisan S. 308 introduced previously in the Senate.  A summary of the legislation is available here.

The reintroduction of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act comes as the full House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote this week on HR 5, a partisan ESEA reauthorization bill that would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that can be used for afterschool or in-school programming.

The House Afterschool for America’s Children Act:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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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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learn more about: Science
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FEB
12

STEM
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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
11

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 11, 2015

By Luci Manning

Teenage Chess Whiz From Fair Lawn Teaches Young Players (The Record, New Jersey)

After school eager Fairmount Elementary School students line up across from each other on a block-tiled linoleum floor resembling a giant chessboard. At Greg Gabovich’s command, they walk forward until they’re standing diagonally opposite each other and high five, demonstrating how a pawn can conquer another piece in chess. High school senior and internationally-ranked competitive chess player Gabovich created the Chessmates afterschool program a year ago, crediting the game with helping him develop analytical thinking and a love for math. “The thing is, if you can tie education to a student’s passion, the student is going to do better in all aspects of their education,” Scott Demeter, Gabovich’s former history teacher who helped him draft interactive lessons for Chessmates, told The Record.

Educational Puzzles Solved Together on Challenge Island (The News & Observer, North Carolina)

Sometimes, it takes creative methods to get kids to learn. In the case of the Challenge Island afterschool program, the lesson plans borrow some of the methods – and challenges – from the popular reality show, “Survivor.” Challenge Island is an afterschool program for elementary students that reinforces STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and core language arts skills through hands-on learning encouraging children to work together to come up with innovative solutions. “Kids really learn to work together, using the scientific method, designing, testing, revising and testing until complete,” owner Tom Harrington told the News & Observer. Harrington said he is especially impressed with the collaboration among students. “Usually, children don’t start to learn to work like that until middle school but we’re doing it in first grade,” he said.

For STEAM Studio Students, Class Is in the Architects’ Loft (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, a group of young girls in Kansas City gather in the third-floor loft space of the architectural firm Gould Evans, an unconventional classroom known as STEAM Studio. The “anti-classroom” is the brainchild of Rockhurst University assistant professor of education Mandi Sonnenberg, who aims to inspire students to be more innovative and encourage non-traditional thinking by bringing them to unusual creative spaces for learning. On this particular afternoon, the girls’ only assignment is to explore and create using the firm’s supplies to bring their design ideas to life through fabric, white paper, scissors and glue.  “The collaboration began earlier this school year as Rockhurst University enlisted afterschool groups to pilot the program,” the Kansas City Star reports.

San Jose Mayor Unveils Plans for After-School Programs, Teen Jobs (Contra Costa Times, California)

In one of his first new initiatives as mayor, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a plan to spend public money to provide afterschool programs to city kids and teens. Mayor Liccardo said the youth programs would help address two key issues in San Jose: public safety and the wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots. The Contra Costa Times reports, “Expanding afterschool programs is a popular strategy for city officials across the country to redirect trouble-prone kids into constructive activities like sports and music. Liccardo’s plan would target K-5 students and focus mostly on academic programs.”

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learn more about: Science Arts
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FEB
10

STEM
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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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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Science
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FEB
3

STEM
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Department of Education announces new interagency collaborations for afterschool STEM

By Sophie Papavizas

In a January 30th press release, the Department of Education announced increased interagency collaborations in support of STEM learning in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC).  Following on the success of a pilot NASA partnership, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Park Service (NPS) will also partner with 21st CCLC programs to offer hands-on STEM learning based on real-world programs in out-of-school time.

See the press release for more details on the types of programming being offered and don’t forget to contact Congress to help protect the federal funding stream for 21st Century Community Learning Centers!

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Federal Policy Science
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FEB
2

STEM
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New year, new STEM education bills

By Sophie Papavizas

Each year in January, when many state legislatures start up fresh again, a large number of new bills appear and this year we’re seeing many relating to informal and formal STEM education.  Amongst the STEM-related bills appearing in the states is a bill sponsored by Montana State Senator Pat Connell to establish a pilot STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) summer school in the state, building on an existing afterschool STEAM program, to study best practices and possible future expansion of the afterschool program.  In New York, State Senator Joseph Robach has introduced legislation to start a grant program to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in STEM.  In Mississippi, State Senator Derrick Simmons has proposed creating Innovation Schools and Innovation Zones to focus on STEM, with specific priority for STEAM and schools struggling to “raise outcomes for students.” 

Not all bills that appear are positive—state legislatures can get bogged down by bills focused on curriculum issues seen as controversial by some such as climate change and human evolution.  The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are also a major topic in many states.  NGSS have already been adopted by 13 states and the District of Columbia since the final version of the standards was released in April 2013.  West Virginia, the most recent state to adopt the standards, initially adopted modified standards, obscuring the intent of one of the standards that requires climate change to be taught as scientific fact, but changed their decision after receiving backlash from parents who circulated a petition calling for the adoption of the NGSS without modification.  Last year in Wyoming, the state legislature passed a budget footnote blocking the State Board of Education from considering NGSS.  Some state representatives questioned whether it was the legislature’s role to prevent the appointed State Board of Education from doing its job and the Wyoming House of Representatives recently passed a bill to remove the budget footnote.  Other states may soon face similar fights around STEM education—the Afterschool Alliance will be following closely.

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learn more about: Science State Policy
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