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AUG
4

STEM
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Guest blog: Help develop evaluation tools for STEM out-of-school-time programs!

By Melissa Ballard

This post was written by Amy Grack Nelson, an evaluator and researcher in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning. 

 

 

 

Teamwork and collaboration are essential 21st century skills and becoming increasingly vital to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Afterschool programs are important environments for youth from diverse backgrounds to develop the teamwork and collaboration skills they need to enter and prosper in the STEM workforce. To help evaluators and practitioners evaluate the development of these skills, the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota are conducting research to develop surveys to measure teamwork and collaboration skills in STEM out-of-school-time (OST) programs. Both institutions have a long history in their commitment to STEM and afterschool education and will be working closely with STEM OST programs throughout the research process to ensure the final surveys are useful and relevant to the needs of a broad range of programs.

Before we can create surveys to evaluate these skills, we need to understand how STEM OST programs define teamwork and collaboration and how they are teaching these skills. We are inviting STEM OST educators to participate in an interview with a member of our research team about the teamwork and collaboration skills addressed in their program.  The interviews will last up to an hour and will take place over the phone. Educators will receive a $25 VISA pre-loaded card in appreciation for their time.  

We are looking for educators from a wide range of STEM OST programs that reach middle and high school youth. If you are interested in participating in this research, please fill out an interest form. We’ll then choose a sample of educators from those that express interest to help ensure we talk to a diversity of STEM OST programs.  Please fill out an interest form by Friday, Aug. 15.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Amy Grack Nelson, Senior Evaluation & Research Associate at the Science Museum of Minnesota at 651-221-4575 or agnelson@smm.org.  

Thank you in advance for your help!

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learn more about: Evaluations Guest Blog Science Community Partners
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AUG
1

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: The summer camp's academic achievement link

By Sarah Simpson

George Garrow is the executive director of Concerned Black Men National.

This week, the CBM Summer Camp Experience comes to an end. Concerned Black Men National sponsors a “camp” for low-income elementary school kids in the nation’s capital every year. The children who attend the five week, day-long sessions come from families whose parents otherwise might not be able to afford to send their kids to a summer program that offers free meals, safety and structure, and equally important, a quality out-of-school-time experience. The young people in our program are wide-eyed and curious about the world like those who attend summer camps throughout the country.  They join the tens of thousands of children who attend a variety of camps or similar events during the summer months.

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learn more about: Advocacy Equity Guest Blog Summer Learning Sustainability Academic Enrichment
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JUL
23

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - July 23, 2014

By Luci Manning

Chambersburg Students Paint ‘Pathways to Diversity’ (Public Opinion, Pennsylvania)

Chambersburg students participating in the Kids Learning After School summer program celebrated the program’s 11th annual Diversity Day with a colorful poster display this week! The artwork showcased the themes in three posters illustrating people of all colors holding hands next to a globe.  When the Public Opinion asked Odalys Ramos what she learned at camp she replied, “We can all communicate in different ways and that we each are different, we love to do stuff together and we like getting to know each other and knowing who we are deep inside.”

YWCA Expands Its After-School Program at New Bresnahan Elementary (Newburyport News, Massachusetts)

A new building will house the YWCA afterschool program, allowing it to expand to accommodate all the families who have been eagerly waiting to get off the afterschool program’s waiting list, reports the Newburyport News. The maximum capacity of the space has doubled, enabling the Y to serve the community better than ever, providing a safe environment for many more Newsburyport children to learn through play.

A Boatload of Westerly Kids and a Whole Lot of Learning (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

Tower Street Community Center’s summer learning program, an extension of Westerly Public Schools’ Before and After School Enrichment Program, is partnering with Save the Bay, a local environmental organization, to teach students about science, water quality, habitats and biodiversity. The Westerly Sun reported on the program’s latest adventure—a trip aboard the Elizabeth Morris where students explored the ecology of the Little Narragansett Bay. The students, equipped with binoculars and maps, were excited to spot a cunner, a tautog, and a black-fingered mud crab.

Boxer Speaks at Anti-Bullying Presentation (Caller Times, Texas)

Local boxer Jerry Belmontes visited Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department’s Latchkey Program at Schanen Elementary School to give 130 children some heartfelt advice about bullying. Belmontes dropped out of prekindergarten and kindergarten because he was bullied and now he’s determined to help others. According to the Caller Times, Latchkey Program students have also heard from members of the military representatives from colleges about reading, nutrition and recycling.  

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learn more about: Summer Learning Community Partners
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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
9

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - July 9, 2014

By Luci Manning

Soapbox: Help Students Beat Summer Learning Loss (Coloradoan, Colorado)

Maria Ortiz, an Afterschool Ambassador and the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant director for Poudre School District, calls on parents, school systems, local and state governments and businesses to help students meet the need for summer learning opportunities across the country in a piece for the Coloradoan.  She writes:

“Clearly, we need more summer learning programs, and just as clearly, the problem is funding them. Right now, the federal government provides some funding for summer learning, by way of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative — the principal federal funding stream for after-school programs. But the funding is insufficient to provide summer learning opportunities for all the kids who need them. Until we can find a way to fix that with contributions from parents, school systems, local and state governments, business, and individual donors, too many of our kids will spend more time with video games and remote controls than with all the wondrous opportunities that summer learning programs can offer them.”

ACTC Summer Camp Teaches About Electronic Components (Daily Independent, Kentucky)

In just one week, elementary school children participating in the Ashland Community and Technical College summer learning camp will have created more than 30 electronic devices including burglar alarms, night lights and police sirens.  In this week’s camp the young students are learning theories behind various electrical components and are putting their knowledge to the test.  Craig McDavid, the program’s instructor, told the Daily Independent the time he spent at this camp as a child motivated him to have a career in science and that he hopes these children are similarly inspired.  He said that “this kind of hands-on learning is the best kind of learning. It’s what brings it home.”

YMS Students Film Commercials for Local Non-Profits (York New-Times, Nebraska)

Students at York Middle School’s (YMS) Summer Learning Academy are gaining some real world media experience and helping their community’s nonprofits in a big way.  The students created commercials to help York Adopt-A-Pet and the Palmer Museum.  Matt Maltsberger, YMS social studies and media productions teacher, told the York News-Times that summer learning programs allow students to have educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom, “I think that getting kids in a different setting—a setting that lets them express themselves—is beneficial.  It’s the ideal situation for great opportunities to learn.”

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Afterschool Ambassadors Digital Learning Science Summer Learning 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
8

FUNDING
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New $150,000 award opportunity: The Trust Challenge

By Nikki Yamashiro

The Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) and the MacArthur Foundation have announced their fifth Digital Media and Learning Competition—the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments.  The Trust Challenge will award a total of $1.2 million—in $10,000 to $150,000 year-long development grants—to institutions and organizations that look to answer questions around trust, privacy, safety and learning in an open online world.  Proposals will address questions such as:

  • How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data?
  • What tools do they need in order to navigate, collaborate and learn online with confidence?
  • What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments?
  • How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust?

Applications will be accepted Sept. 3 to Nov. 3, 2014.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Funding Opportunity Science Arts
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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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