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JUL
9

STEM
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Interactive toolkit to guide STEM role models toward success

By Taylor Moore

Techbridge has recently released a free, online interactive toolkit to help potential role models develop skills to engage girls and underrepresented youth in STEM.  The Role Models Matter Toolkit currently provides 10 mini-lessons for role models to help plan, structure and implement their visit with students.  Each unit comes with a video showing role model Josetta Jones, a patent attorney and chemical engineer, in action demonstrating each step to successfully interacting and communicating the lessons to the student participants.  The toolkit provides lessons on key topics like role model impact, ice breakers for relationship development, advice on using the engineering design process and guidance on how to connect the STEM experience to possible career options for the participants.  If you have any potential STEM role models looking to engage with youth, their work can benefit from this holistic toolkit approach.

Techbridge is a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif., that offers science, engineering and technology-based afterschool and summer programs for girls.  Since 2000, the organization has engaged with more than 4,000 girls in grades 5-12 in hands-on learning and career exploration.  The Role Models Matter Toolkit is part of Techbridge’s Role Models Matter initiative to help prepare STEM professionals for outreach and is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation

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learn more about: Science Youth Development Community Partners
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JUL
8

STEM
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Guest blog: Building collaboration among afterschool and school-day educators at the Next Steps Institute

By Taylor Moore

Emily Vercoe is the director of the Next Steps Institute, a professional development program of Earth Force. Earth Force engages young people as active citizens in their communities by providing educators with tools, relevant resources, and support to inspire the next generation. Prior to her current role, Emily developed expertise in formal and informal science and STEM through work with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, the Colorado Youth Program and the Boulder Valley School District.

 

The idea of partnerships is not a new one: we get by with a little help from our friends; it takes a village; many hands make light work.  Phrases like these indicate the importance of building communities of support to achieve a common goal.  At Earth Force, we believe the power of partnerships can create an enriching and interactive experience within STEM education. This is why this year’s Next Steps Institute (NSI) in Washington, D.C., will focus on Integrating STEM into Communities.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science Community Partners
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JUL
7

STEM
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New paper: What are the impacts of afterschool STEM?

By Melissa Ballard

Today, many afterschool and summer programs include science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as a standard part of their comprehensive programming.  Afterschool providers recognize the importance of improved STEM education for their students and that hands-on, inquiry-driven STEM is in line with afterschool’s overall approach to education.  Practitioners are able to directly see the impact afterschool STEM programs have on students—they see youth engaged in and excited about STEM activities, asking questions, and wanting to learn more.  However, funders, policy makers and other stakeholders often want data that substantiates such claims and demonstrates positive changes in a variety of outcomes: interest and engagement in science, greater knowledge of STEM careers, election of school science classes, and, sometimes, improved test scores in science and math.

In this new paper, “Examining the impact of afterschool STEM programs,” we overview some of the recent research findings about the importance of afterschool and other out-of-school time experiences for STEM learning.  We then summarize evaluation data from a selection of strong afterschool STEM programs and describe the types of substantive impacts these programs are having on participating youth.  Several themes emerged in our analysis:

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learn more about: Evaluations Science
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JUN
30

STEM
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State university in Michigan receives $5 million endowment for summer STEM camps

By Melissa Ballard

On the heels of National Summer Learning Day, there’s great news for kids in Michigan.  Starting next year, Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) will host summer STEM camps for middle and high school students, thanks to a gift from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.  The foundation awarded the university a $5 million endowment to establish the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow STEM Scholar Network, which will support SVSU’s summer camps, as well as sponsor undergraduate research projects.  The four-week, 160-hour middle school camp will reach 60 students and target those who are struggling academically. SVSU will also host three 80-hour high school camps reaching 36 students, with the goal to encourage more to pursue college degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.  SVSU students and school staff will serve as mentors in the summer camp, a model based on a 2012 pilot program at a local middle school.

Afterschool and summer STEM programs engage and excite kids with real-world, hands-on learning, giving them opportunities to think about the STEM fields in new ways.  Not only will SVSU’s summer camps help students avoid losing skills they’ve gained during the school year, but they will also help build interest and new capabilities in STEM.  We hope to hear great things from this initiative!

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learn more about: Science Summer Learning Community Partners
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JUN
29

IN THE FIELD
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2 events, 2 days, 2 great opportunities for afterschool

By Jodi Grant

What an incredible way to start the summer!  Two events, two days and two great shout-outs for our afterschool and summer learning programs.

White House Summit on Working Families

On Mon., June 23, the White House hosted its first ever White House Summit on Working Families.  The event featured celebrities, journalists and Members of Congress, as well as Dr. Jill Biden, Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Pres. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and pulled out every stop to showcase and highlight the challenges facing our working families.

While every speaker mentioned the need for high-quality childcare, I cheered loudest for Vice Pres. Biden, whose impassioned speech kicked off with a tribute to the power and impact of afterschool programs.  Defining families as more than just parents, the vice president spoke about how afterschool programs make a tremendous difference not only for working families, but also for the students who are at the gravest risk during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m.  The vice president even gave a shout-out to many of the community-based organizations that help to provide care during the afterschool hours. 

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Department of Education Equity Events and Briefings Federal Policy Obama Summer Learning Working Families
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JUN
29

STEM
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Supporting Afterschool STEM Act introduced to support technical assistance for afterschool providers

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has introduced a bill aimed at providing the supports afterschool practitioners need to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.  Titled the Supporting Afterschool STEM ActS.2543 will create a grant program that state and regional afterschool and STEM networks can tap into to help afterschool providers in their area give students engaging and high-quality STEM learning experiences. 

As STEM programming grows in afterschool settings, the need for technical assistance and professional development is also rising.  However, most funding is usually allocated to develop and implement programs.  This important legislation recognizes the need to provide resources that will help afterschool practitioners with their professional development and quality improvement efforts. 

The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award three-year grants to existing afterschool or STEM networks, with 20 percent of all funding reserved to develop new afterschool or STEM networks in states or regions where they don't yet exist.  This bill will enable afterschool networks as well as STEM networks to provide the infrastructure needed for supporting high-quality afterschool STEM programs regionally.  It rightly draws on existing networks and their experience and expertise to assist new and existing afterschool STEM programs and increase the effectiveness of existing federal investments.  The effort would help afterschool programs nationwide develop activities and programming that works in other communities in their state.  The bill also encourages mentorship between students and federal STEM research grantees, and provides hands-on learning and exposure to STEM research facilities for young people.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Science State Networks Sustainability
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JUN
20

STEM
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Guest Blog: 8 things to remember when integrating STEM

By Taylor Moore

Anna Padget Crocker is the project associate for afterschool and community initiatives at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, where she manages the NSF-funded project STEM 3D: Integrating Science into Afterschool, Home and Community. She specializes in developing curricular resources and training modules designed to build capacity in facilitators new to science education. Her background includes writing field-based environmental education curriculum and evaluating family, school, and community partnerships.

 

This post originally appeared on the National AfterSchool Association’s Tip of the Week page.

 

Feeling like integrating STEM into your current curriculum is an unsolvable equation? STEM doesn't have to intimidate or overwhelm you; it's an essential component of every afterschool program. So to help, here are eight tips to help you start the process.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science Youth Development
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JUN
18

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - June 18, 2014

By Luci Manning

Grant’s Loss Cuts Irving After-School Program Used by Thousands (Dallas Morning News, Texas)

“An after-school program that served thousands of students in one of the region’s poorest districts has shut down after losing a federal grant,” the Dallas Morning News reports.  Parents and educators praised the Quest afterschool program as a successful model for keeping students on track to graduate, and an independent auditor warned that students’ test scores might dip without the program. Officials are brainstorming and fundraising ways to try and continue the program next year but caution that they won’t be able to provide the same level of programming.

Liberty Students Learn Fun Skills at Afterschool Craft Club (Murray Journal, Utah)

A popular afterschool craft program at Liberty Elementary has tripled in size since the beginning of the school year as more students see the creative projects their peers are completing after school.  On any given day, afterschool students can be seen painting with water colors, stringing together beaded necklaces, and sculpting with clay.  One sixth grader, Allie Krebs, who learned how to crochet blankets, spoke fondly about her new hobby to the Murray Journal, saying that “crocheting relaxed me if I’m stressed out or nervous and it makes me happy.”

College Town (Telegram & Gazette, Massachusetts)

“A Place We Can Call Home,” a powerful documentary produced by the Storytelling Project Incorporating Technology for Ideological Transformation (SPIT-IT) afterschool program, tells the stories of three of the club’s immigrant youths. According to the Telegram & Gazette, SPIT-IT empowers students to voice their experiences and perspectives on the various social realities and public policy issues that affect them through the creation of documentaries.  The students in SPIT-IT conceived, wrote and produced their latest film to show how immigration has impacted Worcester’s young people, many of whom are first or second generation immigrants. 

Stamford’s Young Mariners Graduate on the Sound (Stamford Advocate, Connecticut)

Twenty students from the Stamford area stood proudly on the deck of the Ticonderoga for a special graduation ceremony last Tuesday.  As part of the Young Mariners afterschool enrichment program, the students learned the basics of sailing as well as swimming, CPR, navigation, boating safety and off the water engineering and math principles.  Some of the Young Mariners told the Stamford Advocate that their favorite experiences include taking water samples and learning about how to keep the oceans clean.      

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learn more about: Federal Funding Federal Policy Arts
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