A new grant competition will award $150,000 to libraries, museums, and other nonprofits to provide hands-on learning opportunities this summer for youth across the country to help make the online experience more civil, safe and empowering. The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition is administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), with support from the MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the University of California, Irvine, and in partnership with the Born This Way Foundation. Grants will support a series of local hands-on events July through September where young people collaborate and compete through activities such as hackathons, maker spaces, digital journalism and communications labs, and mentoring workshops. Programs must be based on the understanding that learning happens anywhere, anytime and should be equitable, social, participatory, and reflect kids’ interests. Applications are due June 10. More information can be found on the Digital Media and Learning Competition website.
This week, 20 youth finalist teams will meet at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, for the Conrad Foundation’s 2013 Innovation Summit. Teams will present their designs of a “global innovation product” developed for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge to a panel of scientists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials. Challenged to create commercially viable products to address issues of global sustainability, teams applied their STEM knowledge in innovative ways, developing products for one of four categories—Aerospace and Aviation; Cybertechnology and Security; Energy and Environment; and Health and Nutrition. These young entrepreneurs will undergo a tough evaluation on technical content and market viability from an expert panel, and the winning team in each category will receive a $10,000 grant to continue their product development.
I spoke with one of the teams, Chicks in Space, a subset of the Neighborhood After School Science Association (NASSA) from Ava, NY. MaryAnn, Lillith and Adia—ages 17, 14 and 12, respectively—are among the 5 teams competing in the Aerospace and Aviation category. Their product, the Garden of ETON (Extraterrestrial Organic Nutrition), provides a way for astronauts weary of dehydrated foods to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Through a series of experiments on plant growth in microgravity conditions, Chicks in Space developed a hydroponic gardening system that can be used in space! Their original submission video, below, follows the research and development process of the Garden of ETON.
This month we’re putting the spotlight on two of our grant opportunities for afterschool programs: the well-known MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards and the new Noyce Foundation Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. Afterschool STEM programs can apply for an Impact Award now until May 15. The Innovator Awards nomination process has been moved to later this year—stay tuned for further details and key dates. These webinars will introduce you to both grant opportunities, complete with tips about the application and selection process.
Afterschool Innovators & Middle School Success
April 25, 3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT
Since 2008, the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation have collaborated to highlight and expand the work of innovative afterschool programs supporting children, families and communities across the nation. Now in the fifth year of the partnership, we have awarded more than $160,000 to programs in a variety of categories, including digital learning, school alignment, service-learning, middle school bullying and college readiness. Join us to learn more about last year’s MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners and hear helpful tips about the selection process. Register now!
Afterschool STEM Impact Award Insights
April 30, 1:00 – 1:30 PM EDT
The Afterschool Alliance recently announced a new national award for afterschool programs offering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – the Afterschool STEM Impact Awards, sponsored by the Noyce Foundation. This year’s award categories are focused on partnership models, and computing and/or engineering. This webinar will be incredibly useful to potential applicants as we will discuss the intentions behind creating the Afterschool STEM Impact awards and what we’ll be looking for in the review process. The Afterschool Alliance team will also address the definitions used for the award categories. Participants will have the opportunity to ask any questions they might have to help craft a winning application! Register now!
The Afterschool Alliance and the Noyce Foundation are excited to announce the new Afterschool STEM Impact Awards! Two $10,000 awards will be awarded to exemplary afterschool programs offering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to students in grades 4 through 8.
As afterschool STEM programming grows around the nation, we want to recognize programs that are clearly demonstrating their impact on participants. Such programs highlight the power of afterschool programs as key partners in STEM education reform and can also serve as best-practice models.
In addition to the cash award, winners and other notable applicants will be promoted nationally through a variety of opportunities—they will be featured in a special series of Afterschool Alliance issue briefs, invited to participate in webinars, co-present at national and state conferences, and generally highlighted as model programs.
- Afterschool programs that are a strong partnership between an afterschool provider and a STEM-rich institution(s), which include science centers or museums, nature centers, universities, government labs, STEM-related businesses, or other similar institutions. Programs may focus on any STEM topic.
- Afterschool programs that have a strong computing and/or engineering component. Computing is not about learning how to use technology—it’s acquiring the skills and knowledge required to create technology. For the purposes of this contest, computing includes but is not limited to coding, programming mobile apps, and software or hardware design. Engineering programs should be rooted in the engineering design process, and students should be developing and building a solution to a problem.
Additional details are available on the award website, along with a link to the online application. Applications are due by May 15, 2013.
Know an afterschool program that’s perfect for this award? Share this opportunity with your colleagues and friends. We can’t wait to hear about the fantastic STEM programs across the nation and the impact that they’re having on kids!
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.