Alyssa Schwenk is the research associate at Change the Equation, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM education nationwide. To that end, they have developed iOn Future, a program geared toward sparking middle schoolers’ interest in a STEM career.
Looking for a way to introduce your students to the wide world of STEM this summer? Try iOn Future, an online learning suite featuring four STEM-centric games. iOn Future helps middle schoolers see how STEM is used every day in their own world, and helps them identify what STEM careers might be most interesting to them. It's designed to support and extend programming around STEM and STEM careers. Leaders can use the game to preview units on STEM careers, and students can use the game independently to explore career paths of interest to them like astrobiology, oceanography or mechanical engineering. Download the iOn Future Learning Guide or visit iOnFuture.org to learn more.
In the STEM Career Matchmaker game, students can choose topics of interest and are returned a list of careers that match. They can further sort careers by the skills needed, education level required and the potential salary they can make.
By Sarah Keller
Sarah Cruz is the director of expanded learning opportunities for the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities, NJSACC. NJSACC promotes and supports the development, continuity and expansion of quality programs for children and youth during the hours after school.
We know that many afterschool programs engage youth in great hands-on experiences from arts and crafts and basketball to chess and step teams. What we need to know and promote to our colleagues and communities, policy makers and parents is how high-quality afterschool activities can support learning that takes place during the school day.
In New Jersey, we learned how this is possible from our pilot Supporting Student Success (s3). Funded by Charles S. Mott Foundation—in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices—we learned that afterschool programs can align and support school day learning when program leadership is intentional about the activities, experiences and interactions youth have while attending afterschool programs.
|Sherry Comer is the director of afterschool services in Camdenton, Missouri, and a former Afterschool Ambassador. Her school’s FIRST Robotics team went to the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, this year.|
Every day in Camdenton, Missouri, R-III afterschool programs, change is happening. Students are developing 21stcentury skills that will carry them into the future to be successful in an ever-changing global economy.
Through FIRSTRobotics, 4th through 12th grade students in our rural community have gotten excited and engaged in what is often referred to as “the hardest fun ever!” Our teachers and technical mentors push them to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to go over, under, around and through walls that society says they can’t penetrate. FIRST is designed to create an atmosphere where students combine the excitement of sports with the rigors of STEM. Under strict rules and with limited resources and tight time limits, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get.
Below, watch the Camdenton 4-H LASER team's winning robot in action!
The chance to hang out with LeBron James, the Miami Heat power forward, is pretty rare. But even rarer is the chance for 10 academic all-stars from Akron Public Schools Extended Learning program to be flown to Miami and share the stage with James as he was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the fourth time.
Last Friday afternoon Akron students were sitting in class at Seiberling Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, but on Sunday morning, the 10 academic all-stars were enjoying a gourmet breakfast in a swanky dining room at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, courtesy of the LeBron James Family Foundation. This was one of the many rewards for being selected out of the nearly 500 children participating in the foundation’s Wheels for Education program.
By Jen Rinehart
While volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom recently, I noticed a stack of kindergarten math workbooks that proudly advertised, “Aligned with the Common Core State Standards.” It was a clear sign that the Common Core standards have arrived in classrooms across the country and a reminder to me that the Afterschool Alliance can help afterschool providers better understand Common Core and what roles afterschool stakeholders can play in supporting learning under the Common Core.
So what are the Common Core State Standards? They are a set of standards in reading/language arts and math that resulted from several years of collective thinking by teachers, researchers and leading experts in the education field about what students should know and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts. Prior to the Common Core, most states had their own individual sets of standards.
Why do the Common Core State Standards exist? Proponents of Common Core argue that with the adoption of the standards, students who move from state to state, and especially students in military families who might make multiple moves in a K-12 career, will have a smoother transition because the schools in each state will be working from the same set of high expectations about what kids in each grade should be able to do. They also point out that states can share instructional resources like textbooks and even assessments, which are currently under development and expected to be rolled out during the 2013-2014 school year. As you might imagine, there are alsoeducation leaders who question the value of Common Core, particularly since the Common Core were not pilot tested prior to roll out to nearly all states, and who view Common Core and the related assessments as costly (both for the country and our children’s futures) experiments in learning.
Earlier this month, Champions® and the National AfterSchool Association released their second annual “Out-of-School Time Survey.” The survey found an overwhelming majority of elementary and middle school superintendents believe in the academic, social and behavioral benefits afterschool programs provide to their students. In addition to viewing afterschool programs as an environment where children can improve their core academic skills—such as reading, math and science—96 percent of superintendents agree that the most important afterschool programs improve study skills and more than 9 in 10 superintendents surveyed agree that the most important afterschool programs increase students’ social interactions and engagement (92 percent). More than 4 in 5 superintendents say that the most important afterschool programs are those that offer activities not present during the traditional school day (82 percent).
A key take away from this survey is that school superintendents understand the true value of afterschool programs and recognize that schools and students benefit from support of afterschool programs. Schools aren’t alone in the charge to ensure that all students receive a quality and well-rounded education. Afterschool programs are able and willing partners to prepare students for success in school, career and life.