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JUN
4
2014

STEM
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Afterschool programs exhibit at the White House Science Fair

By Melissa Ballard

Last week, the White House Science Fair hosted more than 100 students from across the U.S. to showcase their inventions and projects. Students, either individually or in teams, had won a variety of national and regional competitions in everything from rocketry, robotics and electric vehicles. Two of these teams represented afterschool programs! Pres. Obama toured the fair, meeting all of the students, and then announced new components of the Educate to Innovate initiative, including an expansion of the STEM AmeriCorps program and a national STEM mentoring effort. 

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learn more about: Events and Briefings POTUS Robotics
MAY
29
2014

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - May 29, 2014

By Luci Manning

Academic Mentoring Helps Superior Students Gear Up For Learning (Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota)

Every Tuesday and Thursday, a group of students at Superior Middle School hurry to the Gain Early Awareness and Readiness (GEARS) afterschool program, where University of Wisconsin-Superior students help them with homework and school projects.  The students in GEARS are placed in the program based on failing grades or other risk factors, but engaging with mentors who are passionate about their success and well-being has translated into better work ethic, behavior, and grades.  Berkley Freund, 11, told the Duluth News Tribune, “I definitely think it has been successful, it helped us all.  Plus I like that we get snacks and free time after we finish our work.”

Fort Cherry Girls Try in Engineering (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Robotics has taken a fashionable turn at the Fort Cherry Elementary Center, where students in the Fashion Bots afterschool club are creating their own robots complete with motors, sensors and lights.  The 10 students involved, most of them girls, put their imaginations to the test. Some are working on a hybrid unicorn/kitten robot that shakes its tail and spins its bow, and others a scene of the Eiffel Tower that transitions from day to night.  Trisha Craig, the curriculum coordinator, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that “the primary focus is to get girls interested in STEM activities.  We picked the theme Fashion Bots so it would entice girls and it worked.”  The students are putting the finishing touches on their projects and are excited to demonstrate the results of their hard work and creativity to their parents at an upcoming show-and-tell event.

Glenwood Student Launches Program to Empower Young Boys (State Journal-Register, Illinois)

A new afterschool program is making a difference in the lives of 34 fourth-grade boys at Glenwood Elementary School.  The Superheroes club, which was inspired by Girls on the Run, has enabled the students to grow socially and emotionally through a combination of physical activities and mentoring.  Eli Day, a high school senior and founder of the club, wanted to instill confidence and discipline in the students so they would better understand the power of their actions and treat themselves and others with respect.  While the club has only met five times, Crystal Day, Eli’s mom and the fourth-grade teacher who created the Superheroes curriculum, told the State Journal-Register that she can already see that the students have a greater sense of camaraderie.

OCT
22
2013

STEM
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Use their creativity and energy to benefit humanity

By Sarah Simpson

The Spirit of Innovation Challenge is an excellent way to help your students channel their creative thinking and demonstrate their knowledge. The annual program is a multi-phase, business and technical plan competition, free and open to students ages 13-18 from around the world. The program invites teens to work in teams of 2-5 students and use science, technology, engineering and math skills along with creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship to develop innovative products and services to benefit humanity and address global sustainability.

The first round submission can be completed in less than five hours from start to finish. The deadline for the 2013-2014 one-page abstract qualification round is this Thurs., Oct. 24. 

Not sure you have all the tools needed for your team to be successful? The Spirit of Innovation Challenge provides free access to mentors, webinars and forums to answer all your questions. Join today! www.ConradAwards.org

AUG
7
2013

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - August 7, 2013

By Luci Manning

Earlier this week, afterschool students from Karns Middle School helped State Rep. Gloria Johnson focus attention on the need for more programs for budding scientists, engineers and technologists. Rep. Johnson touted the afterschool program’s success in having students compete and place in national competitions. Rep. Johnson said she’d like to raise awareness about the program so that more students can participate and be exposed to biotechnology, architecture, desktop publishing, graphics and video game design, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. 
 
Wake County elementary students participating in a summer camp got a visit from NASA Ambassador Marc Fusco last week about the use of technology in space. Fusco spoke with students about NASA’s use of robotics to explore Mars and answered students’ questions about whether people live in space and if there are planets in other galaxies, the North Raleigh News reports. STEM For Kids, which runs camps, afterschool programs and workshops, focuses on engineering and technology.
 
The Rochester City School District is participating in a national study looking at whether programs that blend enrichment activities with traditional academic learning can reduce summer learning loss. “The whole focus is to get enough evidence on the impact of these programs to be able to affect policy,” Caterina Leone-Mannino, who oversees the district’s summer school programs, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Educators and researchers hope that a focus on more enrichment than remedial work may hold the key to closing the achievement gap between students from different racial and economic backgrounds.
 
Iridescent Founder and CEO Tara Chklovski writes about her experiences mentoring youth, the rewards of working with students and challenges other scientists to get involved in a blog post. In her Huffington Post piece, she writes, “There is a lot of discussion these days regarding the lack of capable, diverse, innovative STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] workforce. The solution is not that hard. It just requires everyone to rally around a common goal—like we did a few decades ago with the race to space. It was cool to become an engineer or a scientist. It is time to rally again and inspire the next generation of innovators and inventors. And to do so can actually be fun and fulfilling.”
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learn more about: Robotics Science Summer Learning
JUL
24
2013

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - July 24, 2013

By Luci Manning

“In the absence of school, the Mays Landing branch of the Atlantic County Public Library has stepped up to help, offering summer reading programs for kids aimed at preventing summer learning loss,” the Press of Atlantic City reports. The library has created the “Burrow Into a Book with Me Book Club” to go along with arts and crafts to engage young students and promote learning during the summertime.
 
More than 200 students are participating in summer learning programs in Greenville thanks to a unique partnership between the Phillis Wheatley Association and Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church. The two groups brought together a variety of community partners to make the program a success. Some partners include: Certus Bank, Great Outdoor Adventure Trips, First Baptist Greenville, Greenville Tech Charter School, Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina and the Boy Scouts. Organizers told the Greenville Times that the summer program may lead to an afterschool program this fall.
 
More than a dozen young people from around Nashua took part in a week-long summer program where they learned how to design video games and build and program remote control cars. The camp was organized by Nashua’s RoboTech Center, an organization that provides technology and science-based education programs for students in the summer and afterschool programs during the school year. Program Manager Suzanne Delaney told the Nashua Telegraph that too often “schools need to spend time reviewing reading, writing and basic math skills, and do not have the opportunity to explore more advanced technology with young students.”
 
Splitting cells. Using a mass spectrometer. Learning how chemicals react. These are some of the things 10 South Bend area teens are learning in Project SEED, a summer program from the American Chemical Society that provides economically disadvantaged high school students the opportunity to do paid hands-on research in the chemical sciences, the South Bend Tribune reports. As part of the program the teens are mentored by the scientists with whom they work, learn about college opportunities and write a five-page paper about their summer experience.
JUL
12
2013

POLICY
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Rural afterschool programs highlighted, praised at Congressional briefing

By Sarah Keller

Yesterday the Senate Afterschool Caucus hosted a policy briefing highlighting the positive impact on students and communities of rural before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs.  The briefing allowed participants to discuss how the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative greatly benefits rural students and their families.  Participants included Sandy Klaus, Principal of Starmont Elementary School in Arlington, Iowa; Dr. Jennifer Skuza, Assistant Dean of the Center for Youth Development at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Dorothy McCargo Freeman of 4-H in Minnesota; and Shelby Dettinger, Grant Programs Officer of World Vision Appalachia in Philippi, West Virginia.
 
All four panelists keyed in on the theme that afterschool programs are more than just places where students do their homework and stay until their parents get off of work.  They truly are places that positively impact students and the entire community over the long-term.  While panelists detailed academic outcomes of programs, they also called out a number of other important program benefits:
MAY
28
2013

STEM
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Guest blog: The importance of STEM in rural afterschool programs

By Melissa Ballard



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! 

APR
24
2013

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - April 24, 2013

By Luci Manning

Mayors and city council members from across the country co-authored a piece on the importance of afterschool programs in Education Week. It said: “For our cities to remain beacons of hope, it is our responsibility as municipal leaders to help young people develop the skills and talents they need to find gainful employment and become successful adults in a knowledge-based economy. City leaders must work together with schools, parents, and others to help young people thrive, with a shared understanding that their success will determine the success of our cities. Maximizing the after-school hours is one important way in which city governments can improve educational outcomes for children and teenagers and reinforce what they learn in the classroom.” The op-ed was signed by Mayors Christopher Coleman (St. Paul, Minn.), Karl Dean (Nashville, Tenn.), and Betsy Price (Fort Worth, Texas) and City Council Members James Mitchell Jr. (Charlotte, N.C.) and Ronnie Steine (Nashville, Tenn.).
 
Using data from a survey of young people, associate director of the Center for Education Policy Research Angelo Gonzales and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico, “have identified a strong relationship between students who are involved in activities outside of school and those who engage in less risky behaviors,” the Albuquerque Journal reports. “Specifically, students who said they were involved in extracurricular activities reported lower levels of attempts to commit suicide, smoking, binge drinking, drug use and sexual activity…and significantly higher rates of daily physical activity.” The New Mexico-specific data is from the 2011 state Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey of middle and high school students.
 
Students from the Whitney Community Center afterschool program are walking around the playground with Boise City Council member TJ Thomson as part of a local initiative to encourage physical fitness, the Idaho Statesman reports. Boise Mayor David H. Bieter has pledged to walk 150 miles in honor of the city’s sesquicentennial.
 
The the Worcester Technical High School Robotics and Automation Technology Team, one of 420 teams from 23 countries, won the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championships trophy over the weekend. Worcester Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Dennis Berkey told the Telegram & Gazette, “Their world championship award reinforces the power of STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education, specifically as it applies in robotics, and especially the highly effective curriculum and dedication of the faculty and staff at ‘the other’ Worcester Tech.”