By Luci Manning
Breckenridge middle schoolers are learning skills that could one day lead to well-paying manufacturing jobs at Roanoke’s Maker Mart afterschool program. Students in the program work with drills and saws to get hands-on training that will help them learn math and technical skills in a fun, engaging way and prepare them for the workforce. “I want to trick them into that,” program director Kathleen Duncan told WDBJ. “….I want to have this starkly different feel than a lot of the stuff they are getting in a typical classroom.”
North Hollywood High School students will soon take part in a competition to hone their cybersecurity skills. The semifinal round of CyberPatriot IX: The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is an anti-hacking competition that will test the students’ ability to repel simulated cyberattacks. Computer science teacher and coach Jay Gehringer said teaching cybersecurity skills is valuable for the future of both students and the country. “I really feel like I’m helping students pursue a career, I’m showing them something they might find interesting and I’m doing something that will make America a better place,” he told the Daily News of Los Angeles.
Each quarter, nearly 200 women in the organization 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough pick a nonprofit and each pledge to donate at least $50 to its cause. This quarter, they raised nearly $10,000 to jump-start Lab Girls, an afterschool STEM program aimed at empowering middle school girls. “It is a vote of confidence and belief in our region’s girls,” Susie Spikol Faber, community programs coordinator at the Harris Center, which will run the program, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “….The club will develop a network of girls supporting girls with women scientists as role models, encouraging young adolescent girls to keep connected to these STEM skills and grow their abilities.”
The local 4-H will soon offer special afterschool workshops in Custer and Fall River counties each month, giving students of all ages a chance to explore robotics, aviation, cooking, art, nature and more. The workshops will be offered to students of all ages, whether or not they belong to 4-H, as well as their parents. “This is a local effort and idea to provide more innovative, creative and diverse learning opportunities for our youth,” South Dakota State University Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor Brad Keizer told the Hot Springs Star. “The idea is to offer these workshops where the majority of our 4-H families would find them most convenient with their busy schedules.”
Program participants will use coding to explore and create art, storytelling, robotics, video games, websites, and apps. Participants will also visit tech companies and gain an understanding of STEM careers by meeting female engineers and entrepreneurs. If you have female students who are interested in coding or STEM, encourage them to apply! Applications are due March 17th, and additional stipends are available to cover living expenses and transportation to support students who qualify.
Girls Who Code will be hosting 18 Summer Immersion Programs in the following cities:
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Austin, Texas
- Boston, Mass.
- Chicago, Ill.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Miami, Fla.
- Newark, N.J.
- New York City, N.Y.
- San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Stamford, Conn.
- Washington, D.C.
The Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation just announced the launch of Science Everywhere, an initiative to catalyze math and science learning beyond school walls, in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. The foundations are providing nearly half a million dollars to match donations from the public to support creative, hands-on project ideas submitted by educators to the DonorsChoose.org platform. At the end of the challenge, a panel of judges led by astronaut Leland Melvin will award five $5,000 prizes to the best ideas.
There are several steps and requirements, so make sure to carefully read the challenge guidelines. Here’s an overview:
1. Find a public school teacher to partner with.
- Submissions must come from them, so this is a great opportunity to build relationships!
- Read more about DonorsChoose.org’s eligibility requirements.
2. Propose an innovative science or math project that takes place outside of school hours.
- Review the rubric to ensure that your project is competitive.
3. Submit it to DonorsChoose.org ASAP.
- There are specific steps in the submission process, be sure follow them!
- Only funding requests for project materials are eligible, not staff time.
- Total costs must be kept under $2,000.
4. Start fundraising!
- Tell parents, partners, and community supporters all about your proposed project and get them to donate via the DonorsChoose.org platform.
- If you reach half of your funding goal through donations from the public, then you’ll receive a one-to-one match from the Foundations. That means up to another $1,000!
5. Implement the project in your afterschool program.
6. Capture student impacts for a chance to win an additional $5,000.
- Submit the required pre- and post-surveys by the end of this academic year.
- Five winning projects will be announced September 5, 2017.
Apply soon—donations will be matched only until funding runs out! Again, be sure to read the full set of submission guidelines here.
By Luci Manning
Mississippi State University students are acting as homework helpers and positive role models to low-income students in Starkville through the Brickfire Mentoring Program. The Brickfire Project helps low-income families through childcare, afterschool programs and job training. The program has proved beneficial for both youth and college students, according to Mississippi State senior Holly Travis. “I fell in love with the kids and saw an opportunity to have a lasting impact on the students,” she told the Reflector.
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton is trying to boost the number of women in STEM fields through a new afterschool initiative, the Lieutenant Governor’s STEM Challenge for Girls. The program involves 33 students from two Fayette County middle schools and aims to eventually expand statewide. Students will participate in six afterschool sessions working on STEM projects and hearing from professionals in various scientific fields. Melissa Graham, science department chairwoman at Leestown Middle School, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the program is “going to show girls that it doesn’t matter what your gender is, that you can be successful in a STEM occupation.”
A collaboration between Detroit schools and a variety of arts and science venues is expanding learning opportunities for students throughout the city. The participating organizations—including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Belle Isle Nature Center and Detroit Symphony Orchestra—will engage students and families in afterschool events focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). “Our families and students need these experiences, and what happens inside the classrooms needs to be supported by what happens outside the classroom,” interim Detroit Schools Superintendent Alycia Meriweather told Detroit News.
After the afterschool program Project YES lost one of its major grants, a local woman decided to take supporting the program into her own hands. Dot Santy, who has volunteered for and donated to Project YES for the past ten years, is now trying a variety of methods to raise $35,000 so that the program can boost its enrollment from 19 to 85 students. She believes the program provides huge benefits to the community and the children it serves. “Success early encourages them to continue with their education and become contributing citizens to our community,” she told the Tucson Explorer.
By Luci Manning
Approximately 10,000 middle and high school girls from the Los Angeles area had a chance to attend a special screening of the new film ‘Hidden Figures’ and hear from some of the film’s stars about why it’s important for women of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. The event was organized by the LA Promise fund, a nonprofit that helps middle and high school girls prepare for college and careers, and featured Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and actors Janelle Monáe and Aldis Hodge. “Our goal here is to kill that very old-school mentality that math, science, technology and engineering are made for the male mind,” Williams told EdSource.
Students at the Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities are taking a break from winter to visit Hawaii – without leaving their afterschool classroom. The school’s artist-in-residence, Bria Zan Thompson, is spending two weeks teaching students about Hawaiian dance, legends, environment and culture. The two-week unit will culminate with a big dance production at the end of the week, with different grades responsible for different dances. According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the artist-in-residence program brings in an outside professional to teach something students wouldn’t normally learn during the school day.
Students in a Philadelphia afterschool program are learning to create art that can last a lifetime. The middle and high school students involved in the Stained Glass Project learn stained glass window-making from two Temple University alumnae. In the 11 years the program has been running, the students have donated at least 115 stained glass windows to schools and centers around the world, including a primary school in South Africa and a Native American reservation in Minnesota, according to Temple News. “When in [the student’s] lives do they have a chance to do something and … donate it?” Joan Myerson Shrager, one of the women in charge of the program, said. “I think there’s a lot of pride in our students that they have created something very beautiful that they then donate.”
Teens and seniors came together over Bingo this MLK Day as part of President Barack Obama’s national call-to-service initiative, United We Serve. More than 100 students from the Westmoreland Teen Center and 31 AmeriCorps volunteers played games at nursing and retirement homes and passed out gift bags filled with compression socks, lip balm and lotions. “(I hope they learn) there isn’t really a difference between the populations,” teen center director Dawn Baumgardner told the Herald-Dispatch. “They are just like us. There is a lot that they can learn from the older generation. Hopefully it will encourage them to help out and volunteer more when they see the older population.”
The Afterschool Alliance, along with the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), an initiative from the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute and the American Library Association, wants to know if and how afterschool providers are working with public libraries.
Our goals are to build bridges between the afterschool and library fields, so that both can share knowledge and resources to better serve our youth. Even if you’ve never worked with a public library before, take our survey—your thoughts and experiences will help inform our future work!
The survey should take 20 minutes or less to complete, and everyone who completes it will be entered to win one of our fabulous prizes!
- Grand Prize: WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS' 20-week afterschool creative writing and literacy curriculum ($1,200 value!)
- First Prize: A $50 Amazon gift card
- Second Prize: STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans ($25 value)
Take the survey today! The survey will close on Wednesday, February 1, so don’t delay.
We are grateful to WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS for generously offering their afterschool curriculum as a prize! WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS are richly illustrated, word-less books that inspire kids of all ages to become published authors of their own storybooks, each receiving published, hardcover copies of their self-authored, original tales!
Students write collaboratively and independently in an exciting Project-Based Learning experience that ignites self-expression and inventive storytelling, while developing essential 21st Century skills. Upon completion of their books, students upload their stories onto the WRiTE BRAiN BOOK BUiLDER, and publish them!
In a surprise move, Congress sent the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (formerly called America COMPETES) to the President for his signature late last week. The legislation authorizes research investments and the STEM education investments of various science mission agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Energy.
The Afterschool Alliance has worked for several years to ensure that language supportive of afterschool is included in this bill as we recognize the importance of building bridges between STEM professionals and the afterschool field. We are delighted to report that the final bill includes several provisions that recognize the importance of out-of-school learning for STEM.
Of specific interest is Title III, the section on STEM education, and the following items in that title.
In the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, there is a discussion of innovative practices in STEM teacher recruitment and retention. This includes partnering with nonprofit or professional associations to provide the fellowship’s recipients with opportunities for professional development, as well as conducting pilot programs to improve teacher service and retention.
What it means for afterschool: This may provide an opening for afterschool providers to collaborate with schools of teacher education in innovative ways, including practicum placements for student teachers in afterschool STEM programs.
A STEM education advisory panel is to be set up jointly by the Secretary of Education, the Director of NSF, the NASA Administrator and the Administrator of NOAA to advise the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM).
This panel is required to have at least 11 members and include individuals from academic institutions, industry, and nonprofit organizations, including in-school, out-of-school, and informal education practitioners. The group will guide CoSTEM on “various aspects of federal investment in STEM education including ways to better vertically and horizontally integrate Federal STEM education programs and activities from pre-kindergarten through graduate study and the workforce, and from in-school to out-of-school in order to improve transitions for students moving through the STEM education and workforce pipelines.”
What it means for afterschool: This provides an opening for afterschool advocates to nominate experts in informal STEM education who understand afterschool STEM programming deeply. This perspective would be valuable and influential on the STEM education advisory panel.
By Luci Manning
The Thousand Oaks police department and other Conejo Valley agencies are giving 124 youngsters an alternative to joining a gang and getting into trouble after school through Project Safe Passage. The afterschool program operates near students’ homes and provides them with a safe place to work on their homework and develop relationships with peers and positive role models. Each month, the program takes students on educational field trips to museums, universities and more. “We are bringing these services directly to the children,” Thousand Oaks Chief of Police Tim Hagel told the Ventura County Star. “They don’t have to go anywhere. We offer them a safe place to stay in multi-family areas until parents arrive home.”
Six female students are learning to meld metal and develop valuable technical skills through a new afterschool program at Duluth Denfeld High School. The program will make use of the school’s new fabrication lab, which is stocked with tools and equipment for engineering and graphic design classes. “Women are not represented well in the tech field of fabrication, welding and computer-aided design,” tech tutor and afterschool program head Roxane Simenson told the Duluth News-Tribune. She hopes her class can encourage girls to try something new and gain valuable engineering experience along the way.
A group of middle school students have spent the past ten weeks applying their creativity, math and science skills to a very important task: building toys for the Shedd Aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus. The Club Shedd afterschool program brings students to the aquarium each week to learn about existing octopus enrichment tools, design their own models and eventually construct them on a 3D printer. The best ideas may be added to the octopus’ existing set of toys. The program allows students to apply their science lessons to a hands-on project and gain critical skills in the process. “What it’s given them is an open place to throw out creative ideas,” fifth-grade math and science teacher Sara Jacobson told the Chicago Tribune.
Three Massachusetts organizations have been awarded federal funds to try to stem the rise of homegrown extremism by supporting youth in creative ways, as part of an initiative to honor the memory of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. According to the Associated Press, United Somali Youth received $105,000 to develop afterschool, counseling and college assistance programs for Somali, African and Middle Eastern youths that will help them build critical skills for the workforce; Empower Peace was awarded $42,000 to teach high schoolers how to develop social media campaigns promoting tolerance; and the Somali Development Center was given $63,000 to better integrate Somali immigrants and refugees into the community.