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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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MAY
28

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! 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Afterschool Ambassadors Guest Blog Robotics Rural Community Partners
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APR
24

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.” 
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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Health and Wellness Robotics Science Community Partners
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MAR
13

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Rounup - March 13, 2013

By Luci Manning

Camdenton 4-H FIRST LASER afterschool students are not only spending their afternoons preparing for a robotics competition, but they are also giving back to the community. Recently members of teams from Osage Beach Elementary, Hawthorn Elementary, Oak Ridge Intermediate, Camdenton Middle School and High School purchased math and science games, books and resources that will be used in the new Citizens Against Domestic Violence shelter’s play room. “The Camdenton 4-H LASER teams take the core values of FIRST as serious as designing and fabricating robots to complete complex tasks for state and national competitions. In fact, FIRST uses the robot to get students excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) but the main goal of FIRST is to develop life skills that will help students with relationships, teamwork, finance, fundraising, budgeting and project management," Afterschool Services Director and Afterschool Ambassador Sherry Comer told the Lake News. “FIRST teaches students to see the correlation between academics, community, industry and making the world a better place.”
 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled afterschool program LaAmistad as part of its Doing Good series earlier this week. LaAmistad (“friendship” in Spanish) supports Latino and first-generation students and their families through tutoring, mentoring and programming promoting academic, physical, and personal growth. In 10 years, LaAmistad has resulted in 100 percent of its students maintaining an A/B grade average, 90 percent reading at grade level and some students have earned college scholarships. “We aim to enrich their lives inside and outside the classroom,” Angharad Chester-Jones, program director of LaAmistad told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s about raising model citizens to ensure success for our students and families.”
 
Last week afterschool students with the Triton Middle School 21st Century Community Learning Centers Mock Trial program held a mock trial to commemorate the culmination of the program. About a dozen middle school students split up into one of three teams: the prosecution, the defense and witnesses. A jury of 12 composed of school officials, teachers and other members of the school community listened to the 50 minute trial as Judge Peter Doyle presided over the proceedings that ultimately ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury. “Triton Regional School District Assistant Superintendent Brian Forget, who also served on the jury, praised the hard work of his students, calling it a great learning experience,” the Newburyport News reports.
 
Afterschool students in the Oxnard Scholars After School Program went head-to-head during a spelling bee last week. This was the first year of the scholars’ bee competition. Winners from each school site competed by grade level against one another. “Next year, the organization hopes to be able to help the champions participate in a next level up of spelling bees, such as the county and national contests,” the Ventura County Star reports.
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learn more about: 21st CCLC Robotics Literacy Community Partners
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MAR
12

STEM
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Sen. Boxer supports STEM afterschool programs on the Senate floor

By Sarah Simpson

Last week, Afterschool Caucus Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) put her support for afterschool programs and STEM education on the record on the Senate floor.  Read her full statement below, or download here.

Madam President, I rise today to speak about the great work that afterschool and summer learning programs in California and across the country are doing to engage children and youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Afterschool and summer programs are a vital part of our country’s education tapestry. They provide engaging, hands-on learning experiences that stimulate student interest, develop crucial skills, and drive home the relevance of STEM to our daily lives.  Out- of-school learning opportunities help children develop the academic and life skills, such as problem-solving and determination, which are crucial in STEM fields.  Additionally, these programs provide key opportunities for mentors and role models to engage with children.

High-quality afterschool STEM learning programs are having a significant impact on the young people who participate in them.  A recent study shows participants in afterschool and summer programs have improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers, increased STEM capacities and skills, and a higher likelihood of graduating from high school and pursuing a STEM major in college.

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learn more about: Afterschool Caucus Congress
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MAR
11

STEM
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Recognizing afterschool STEM's impact

By Anita Krishnamurthi

This piece was originally published as a commentary in Education Week on March 6, 2013 (Vol. 32, Issue 23, Page 26). Read the original article here.

 
Few dispute that the after-school community has a vital role, and can make a crucial difference, in promoting science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, learning. Yet after-school providers are often so immersed in their work with students that they don't always present a unified voice in articulating their impact.
 
A 2013 Afterschool Alliance study that I led, "Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool," could help change that. By reaching consensus among a group of after-school experts (including 55 experienced providers and 25 after-school STEM supporters, such as funders and national and state education policy leaders), the study lays out three major, achievable outcomes for youths in after-school STEM programs:
  • Developing interest in STEM and related learning activities;
  • Developing capacities to productively engage in STEM learning activities; and
  • Valuing the goals of STEM and STEM learning activities.
These are vital contributions that can change students' lives. Yet many in the after-school community are pessimistic that their impact will be recognized and valued. They aren't as confident about affecting the in-school outcomes that policymakers often focus on—grades and test scores—as they are about improving "foundational" skills, such as problem-solving and teamwork.
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learn more about: Evaluations Media Outreach
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MAR
7

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - March 7, 2013

By Luci Manning

“A group of six Swallow School Elementary students involved in an after-school program are attempting to give back to a group of senior citizens they say have given more than the students could return,” the Journal Sentinel reports. The students interviewed World War II veterans and Holocuast survivors about their experiences as part of a contest requiring students to think outside the box about community service. The project inspired students to help raise money for a local WWII memorial in Port Washington.
 
After teachers and administrators noticed an uptick in name-calling and general bullying, an afterschool program at San Houston Elementary School is teaching students about the negative effects of bullying and disrespect, and how to put a stop to both. Markesha Ford, area manager of the AlphaBEST afterschool program, told The Eagle, “I think the issue now is kids don't really recognize that they are bullying others or that they are being bullied. Instead of them coming in and listening to us talk about it and constantly reminding them, we wanted to add some games to it and make it educational, but have a good time.”
 
At the Expanded Learning Network of the Southern Tier’s legislative breakfast focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, afterschool students demonstrated vehicles they designed and built in their LEGO robotics program at Southside Community Center in Elmira. Fifth-grade student Ripley told the Star-Gazette, “It was fun to build a robot, but programming it was challenging. We had to use different formulas to create a program to make the robot move.”
 
Pobo Efekero, one of the stars of the award-winning documentary Brooklyn Castle, testified before a City Council hearing about the proposed cuts to afterschool funding in Mayor Bloomberg’s budget earlier this week. In discussing the cuts Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn) said, “Our communities will be worse off, our parents will be worse off, our children will be worse off, our schools will be worse off, and in the end the cost of every single one of those things is...greater than the cost of the after school program,” the Daily News reports.
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learn more about: Budget Robotics Community Partners
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FEB
5

RESEARCH
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Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success

By Nikki Yamashiro

This morning I was lucky enough to be a part of the 500-person crowd at the National Press Club to celebrate the release of Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success.  The impressive compendium includes studies, reports and commentaries by more than 100 authors and is edited by Terry Peterson, Afterschool Alliance’s board chair and director of the Afterschool and Community Learning Resource Network.

Bill White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation kicked off the release with a rousing speech about the impact of afterschool and summer learning programs.  He shared with the audience his belief that if you can educate, enrich and mentor youth in the afterschool and summer hours, they have a significantly better chance of having positive life outcomes.  His remarks earned him a standing ovation from the crowd.

He then introduced the man of the hour, Terry, who took the stage and spoke about afterschool programs across the country—from New York to Florida to Texas—that were creating new and exciting ways for children to learn, such as through botany, the arts, robotics and fitness. 

Terry stressed that because kids spend between 75 and 80 percent of their time outside of school, it is up to afterschool and summer learning programs to help students “catch up and keep up.”  If afterschool and summer learning programs continue their work to create a spark of excitement for children to learn, partner with local schools, build on their community partners and engage families, there is a truly great opportunity to make expansions in the area of out-of-school time.

To close, Terry rallied the crowd of educators, researchers, policy makers and advocates with a call to action, stating that the evidence is in and the time is now to help spread this dream of quality afterschool for all.

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learn more about: Education Reform Evaluations Events and Briefings Summer Learning Academic Enrichment Youth Development
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JAN
30

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - January 30, 2013

By Luci Manning

The Nampa Firefighters Union and the Nampa Police Association have pledged at least $1,000 to help the Nampa School District bus 250 children to afterschool programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa, Nampa Recreation Center and Salvation Army, the Idaho Statesman reports. The Firefighters Union and Police Association are asking community groups to help contribute as well. The busing program costs about $8,000 a month.
 
In Prairie Ridge, students are building tilt-a-whirls, airplanes, helicopters, and drag racers after school. In the Bricks 4 Kidz afterschool program, students learn the principles of physics and engineering through LEGO building exercises.  Typically in each session the students build a new complex machine and are given a brief history lesson on its origin and an age-appropriate physics lesson. Organizers credit the hands-on building and learning with keeping students interested in the program, the Bonney Lake and Sumner Courier-Herald reports.
 
Singer-songwriter Shawn Stoddard will donate the proceeds from his song, “Further Down That Road,” to two charities, including one that supports area afterschool programs. The Fender Music Foundation provides instruments to classrooms, afterschool programs and music therapy programs. Stoddard told North County Now, “By writing and performing music I am able to give back to the community and hopefully inspire others.” To purchase Stoddard’s songs, including “Further Down That Road,” click here.
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learn more about: Celebrities Robotics
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