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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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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
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 17, 2014

By Luci Manning

Culinary Classroom: Auburn Middle-Schoolers Compete in Junior Iron Chef Contest (Auburn Citizen, N.Y.)

Ten young chefs put their newly learned kitchen skills to the test during a Junior Iron Chef competition last week in Auburn, N.Y. Two teams of seventh- and eighth-graders made a potato and spinach hand pie they’d spent weeks modifying during an afterschool program. The competition followed several weeks of working together and learning cooking basics from professional chefs and Sarah Parisi, AJHS family and consumer sciences instructor. Organizers say the program has promoted teamwork and communication – there were no meltdowns or raised voices during the hour-long competition. “I’m really proud of them; their creativity really came out,” Parisi told the Auburn Citizen. “They’ve learned to trust each other.”

Boys & Girls Club Keeps 9-Year-Old on Positive Path (Orlando Sentinel, Fla.)

Christina Hagle developed a sharp edge to her personality after her father was taken to jail. She hid her homework, stole things and talked back to her mother – until she found the Boys & Girls Club of Lake & Sumter. Christina began going to the club after school, where she gets help with homework and participates in a variety of activities ranging from aquaponics – growing crops in water – to knitting. “The club is about teaching how to learn about different things that will protect you in life,” Christina told the Orlando Sentinel. Her mother, Tracy Kendall, said Christina has absorbed the club’s lessons on being honest and treating others with respect. “I watched my daughter grow from someone who was a troubled child to someone who is really secure with herself,” Kendall said.

‘Stellar Girls’ Keeps Science in Mind (Southtown Star, Ill.)

Men have always comprised the majority of professionals in the math and scientific fields, but Stellar Girls is hoping to change that. The iBIO Institute Educate Center’s afterschool program is designed to keep young girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and improve scientific literacy. Over the course of the full-year program, girls partake in 20 different hands-on activities focused on how STEM applications are used to “feed, fuel, sow and heal” the world. “Studies have shown that around fourth or fifth grade, girls start to get the message that math and science are just for boys,” Educate program vice president Ann Reed Vogel told the Southtown Star. “We want to help them stay interested and let them explore the bigger ideas available in STEM fields.”

Urban Gardening Yields a Bounty in Many Ways (Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

Each year, the kids from 15-LOVE, a tennis program for inner-city youths, grow tomatoes, green beans, squash, onions, peppers, garlic and more in their urban garden, then use the fresh produce to create healthy recipes from scratch. “Each week, the kids make something different, from salads to personal pizzas,” Executive Director Amber Marino told Albany Times-Union. “It’s healthy and a lot of fun. The kids really get into it.” Growing vegetables and preparing meals with them is a revelation for many of the children, whose meals often come from cans, boxes or fast-food containers. 

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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
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 10, 2014

By Luci Manning

Discovery Space Program Aims to Extend Science Education Past School Bell (Centre Daily Times, Pennsylvania)

An afterschool science program through Benner Elementary School and Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania is encouraging students to think like engineers. During one week, the students, split into groups by grade, were encouraged to build structure-like objects from an assortment of tools, including wooden objects, rubber bands, magnetic links and cards. “Our mission is to teach them that being an engineer is not just driving a train,” Discover Science executive director Allayn Beck told Centre Daily Times. “We teach them all the different ways of engineering, and encourage them to think critically if something doesn’t work out.” Organizers say they hope the program will return next semester to continue to interest students in science after the bell rings.

Stevens Elementary Teacher Gives STEM Subjects a Musical Remix (The Spokesman-Review, Washington)

Teacher Shawn Tolley is combining his two passions—music and computer science—to show fifth- and sixth-graders in his before- and afterschool program how to mix and master music, record audio tracks, synthesize sounds and create electronic music. His students dream of becoming disc jockeys, video game designers, sound technicians or audio engineers, and just a couple months into the program, they’re already learning how to record music, move around audio tracks and manipulate sound. “I’ve been interested in how music can work in electronics,” 10-year-old Faith White told the Spokesman-Review. “I want to make music for a video game when I get older, and it shows me how to do that stuff.”

Letter to the Editor: A Great Program (Hudson Register-Star, New York)

Germantown High School senior Joshua Wyant wrote a letter to the editor for the Hudson Register-Star about his experiences with the Germantown After School Program (GAP).  He writes: “One of the best things ever to happen at Germantown Central School was the implementation of the Germantown After School Program…Besides providing time for homework, GAP also provides kids with many things to do so it will never get boring…This program offers activities where the kids can learn something. These activities include things such as violin lessons, jazz lessons, computer classes, and crafts…GAP also offers the kids a structured, safe environment…Since this program is so great, other school districts should offer it at an affordable rate.” 

Pirate Underground a Space for Marshfield’s Creative Crowd (Coos Bay The World, Oregon)

After noticing several students on the outskirts of Marshfield High School’s social scene, librarian Peggy Christensen launched a new afterschool library program called The Pirate Underground. “I just wanted kids who did not feel like they had a place to belong or a club to join, that they were welcomed in the afterschool library program,” Christensen told Coos Bay World. So far the group has focused on creative writing, art and music. Community artists come in to mentor the students and lead art projects, and students are encouraged to explore their creativity through various exercises. “It’s a nice break from doing school work,” student Jessica Baimbridge said. “You’re sitting in a classroom for 45 to 50 minutes straight and here you get to do what you actually like.”

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DEC
8

STEM
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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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DEC
4

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 4, 2014

By Luci Manning

New Afterschool Program Is Creating Future Entrepreneurs (The Avenue News, Maryland)

Fourth through twelfth-grade students are developing business models and becoming future leaders through I AM O’Kah!’s entrepreneurship program. The 10-week course provides students with entrepreneurship training and communication and each week guest speakers talk to students about their own journey and overcoming obstacles. Aisha DaCosta, CEO of I AM O’Kah!, told The Avenue News that by the end of the program, each student will create a viable business idea to present to a panel of local entrepreneurs. The top three winners will be awarded a micro-grant to help start their business and will be assigned a local entrepreneur as a mentor for the first 30 days of their business venture.

Centre Mentors Coeds Spark Boyle Middle School Girls' Interest in Math, Science (The Advocate-Messenger, Kentucky)

Centre College sophomore Ceci Vollbrecht and several of her classmates formed GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science), an afterschool program at Boyle County Middle School, in an effort to grow the scientific interest in the next generation of girls. The mentoring program is funded by a grant from the National Girls Collaborative Project, which allows for the group to go on field trips to expose the students to the world of science. “Our goal is to keep them interested, do fun stuff with science, keep them active in it, provide role models for the ones who are pursuing higher level science – and college in general,” Vollbrecht told The Advocate-Messenger.

Digital Harbor Foundation Is Using 3-D Printing to Attract More Girls to Technology (Baltimore Business Journal, Maryland)

Even though the technology field is known for being male-dominated, girls dominate the Digital Harbor Foundation's 3-D printing competition every year. In order to develop even stronger interest among girls, the Baltimore technology education organization is launching a club called the Makerettes, which allows middle school and high school girls to work together on projects (3-D printed or otherwise) and get to know each other. Greer Melon, the foundation’s director of business operations told Baltimore Business Journal, “The culture of tech jobs is something that can be really off-putting for girls.” Organizers hope the club will not only attract new students, but also help female students overcome the male-dominated technology culture.

School Spotlight: Whitehorse Makers Club Spurs Creativity (Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin)

Recently at the Whitehorse Makers Club, 11 year-old Kodie Kramer created a game app featuring a roving tank that can now be found in the iTunes store. The club allows children to explore their creativity through inventions like Kodie’s and other projects like stop-motion animation, Post-it note murals, video games, music and avatars. Jennifer Milne-Carroll, library media technology specialist and creator of the Whitehorse Makers Club, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the club can help students explore different careers. Whitehorse art teacher Andrew Erickson said it helps them learn to work together and the students have a great deal of freedom. “It’s a place for them to make things, use their creativity. It’s a way to challenge themselves,” he said. “It’s fun to watch them explore and figure out what they want to do and how to accomplish it.”

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NOV
12

IN THE FIELD
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The opportunity equation: helping make the case for high-quality afterschool programs everywhere

By Jodi Grant

Kudos to Eric Schwartz, founding CEO of Citizen Schools, for authoring a book that highlights the value of the afterschool space and boldly points out that the greatest disparity of opportunity between students lies in unequal access to enrichment and learning opportunities outside of the traditional school classroom.

In his recently released book, The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools, Eric argues that the real achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier students stems from what they do with the time they spend outside of school. Upper-middle-class students are exposed to a variety of enrichment activities, and because of their parents, they have multiple opportunities to interact with leaders and role models.  Lower-income students have limited access to any such resources.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Extended Day Academic Enrichment Community Partners
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NOV
5

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup --November 5, 2014

By Luci Manning

CV CyberPatriots Test Skills Against Hundreds in Nation (The Spokesman-Review, Washington)
Central Valley High School students are learning to close computer network gaps that can allow hackers to sneak in thanks to the school’s CyberPatriots afterschool program focused on cyber security. CyberPatriot was created by the Air Force Association to encourage students to consider careers in cyber security and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. 17-year-old Riley Madrian wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Now, she’s hooked. “It’s like trapping someone who is super sneaky. It’s relevant,” Madrian told The Spokesman-Review. “It’s like what should be happening at Target and Home Depot to protect people from their identity being stolen.” Madrian had planned on a college major in music performance, but now she’s considering adding some computer science.

PS 39 Students Use Their Green Thumbs, Learn About Eating Well and Growing Heart-healthy Foods (Staten Island Advance, New York)
Students at PS 39 – many of whom were affected by Hurricane Sandy – are getting a hands-on lesson on growing, harvesting and eating healthy foods, the Staten Island Advance reports.  Earlier this year the afterschool students planted the borough’s first teaching garden thanks to a partnership between the Staten Island YMCA and the American Heart Association. After planting tomatoes, mint, basil, squash, peppers and cucumbers, students made heart-healthy lettuce wraps from the freshly picked ingredients. PS 39 afterschool students were involved in the project from start to finish; they built and painted containers, filled them with soil, took care of watering and weeding, grew the various fruits and vegetables, harvested and ate them.

Piedmont Middle School Offering Coding Class (The Anniston Star, Alabama)
Eighth grade student Chris Chandler has already programmed at least six games in his free time thanks to the skills he’s acquired during Piedmont Middle School’s afterschool program. In weekly afterschool sessions students are learning using Google Computer Science First’s curriculum via Scratch programming, which is a simplified version of the coding languages offered in upper-level classes. Superintendent Matt Akin told The Anniston Star, “The earlier we can expose kids to STEM fields—in this case computer science—the better.” He continued, calling the afterschool program, “a neat way to get kids attracted to programming where normally they wouldn’t be attracted.” 

Carnival Mentors Help Students Cruise Into A Brighter Future (The Miami Herald, Florida)
Student Earl Generato from Pembroke Pines never imagined he’d be able to attend a private university because of the tuition bill. “My sister is going to college soon, too, and my parents wouldn’t be able to pay for both our college tuitions,” he told The Miami Herald. “I didn’t want to overburden them.” However thanks to The Carnival Foundation, the charitable branch of Carnival Corp., and the foundation’s scholarship and mentoring program, Generato was able to do just that. Now finishing his first year as a University of Miami Stamps Leader Scholar, majoring in English and biomedical engineering, he credits Carnival with enabling him to continue his education. The Carnival Foundation recruits students who attend the HEAT Academy, an afterschool program for kids in Little Haiti and Little Havana. Those who maintain good academic standing are invited to join the high school mentoring program, in which students are paired with a Carnival mentor. Students, like Generato, are also eligible for scholarships.

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learn more about: Nutrition Science Service
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