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Afterschool's role in preparing a STEM Ready America

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Afterschool's role in preparing a STEM Ready America

Afterschool STEM programming shone brightly under the spotlight this week with the release of a research study on outcomes and a compendium of articles presenting research and examples of effective afterschool STEM programming.

STEM Next at the University of San Diego (carrying on the work of the Noyce Foundation) and the Mott Foundation partnered to host an event at the National Press Club on March 1 celebrating afterschool STEM programming and its role in preparing young people for the workforce. Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr., an extremely distinguished scientist and professor at the University of Maryland gave the keynote address. Dr. Gates was also on President Obama's Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, where he played a key role in advocating for STEM education.  It was in this latter capacity that Dr. Gates discussed his belief in the value of informal and afterschool STEM learning, recognizing that drawing young people into STEM fields is often more of an emotional issue than an intellectual one.

This last point is a special strength of afterschool programs, evident in the findings from an 11-state study conducted by Dr. Gil Noam and his team at Harvard’s PEAR Institute and Dr. Todd Little and his team at Texas Tech University’s Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis, and Policy (IMMAP).  They gathered and analyzed outcomes reported by 1600 students and nearly 150 facilitators in 160 afterschool programs. The data show that afterschool STEM programs substantially increase young people’s interest in STEM fields and STEM careers and can also help students to think of themselves as capable of doing science.  You can read more about these findings.

A lively panel discussion followed this presentation.  Moderated by Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News & World Report, the conversation included Bronwyn Bevan, Senior Researcher at the University of Washington, Jay Flores, an engineer with Rockwell Automation, Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc., and Rose Wilder, superintendent of Clarendon School District One in South Carolina.  The panelists discussed the critical role of afterschool programs in leveling the playing field for access to STEM education and enrichment opportunities.

Finally, Ron Ottinger, the Director of STEM Next and the former Executive Director of the Noyce Foundation, which oversaw much of the investment in afterschool STEM over the past decade, launched a compendium, STEM Ready America, featuring articles on afterschool STEM from 40 authors. The articles are grouped into three main themes: Evidence for STEM (in afterschool); Partnerships for STEM Learning; and Ensuring Access to Quality STEM. I co-authored one of the papers with Bronwyn, “From Evidence to Policy: The Case for Afterschool.” In this paper, we present the research literature that has long documented the importance of out-of-school settings for engaging young people in STEM and the characteristics of productive programs that yield the best youth outcomes. We follow this discussion with a set of policy recommendations: increase funding to make more high-quality afterschool programs available for those who need it create mechanisms for increased collaboration between in-school and out-of-school educators; and invest in an afterschool STEM research agenda that will help document and understand how STEM learning occurs across time and setting and under what conditions.  There are many compelling papers in this compendium that lay out strategies for increasing access to high-quality afterschool STEM programs.

The research findings combined with the papers in STEM Ready America help to make the clearest case yet for the importance of afterschool STEM programs as vital tools to help all young people prepare for their future.  Keep an eye on STEM Ready America for more research and articles in the coming months!

February resources from Million Girls Moonshot

Welcome to the February installment of STEM resources from the Million Girls Moonshot. This month, Million Girls Moonshot resources are focused on diverse role models and mentors as a strategy to strengthen equity and inclusion in STEM programs. You’ll find podcasts, toolkits, and activity...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/22/21

What does a new president and Congress mean for afterschool STEM?

President Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20, marking the beginning of a four-year term with the pandemic still front and center in the eyes of policymakers and the general public. The first steps for President Biden and Congress have been aimed at getting a handle on the pandemic, which...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/16/21

STEM resources to support engineering mindsets from Million Girls Moonshot

Every month we’ll be publishing a list of resources and activities for afterschool programs to better engage students in STEM. These monthly posts are developed with resources shared from our partners at the Million Girls Moonshot. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/17/20

From the STEM field: An innovative model to deliver STEM learning to under-served youth during the COVID-19 era

By Stephen White, Vice President of External Affairs, Strategic Initiatives, and Business Development and Allie Greiwe, Director of External Affairs at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, OH. This blog is a continuation of our series of case studies examining how informal STEM...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/10/20

Out-of-school STEM during a pandemic: An interview with leaders from FIRST, Learn Fresh, and Girlstart

By Gemma Lenowitz, associate program officer for Inspired Minds at the Overdeck Family Foundation. This article was originally published on the Overdeck Family Foundation's website on November 30, 2020. It is reposted here with the author's permission. Erica Fessia is vice president of...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/01/20

How STEM learning is adapting in COVID-19

This blog post comes to us Rachael Van Schoik, Science Action Club Manager at the California Academy of Sciences. Over the coming months we’ll be highlighting how STEM programs have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue serving students with STEM activities, and what lessons we can...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/26/20

Launch of Million Girls Moonshot boosts STEM learning for girls across the country

After a long-anticipated countdown, the Million Girls Moonshot officially launched on September 16. Established by the STEM Next Opportunity Fund in partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Intel Foundation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the effort will engage one million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/18/20

Free STEM learning opportunity: Facebook's Engineer for the Week!

We are excited to invite you to join Engineer for the Week's Fall 2020 Sprint! It runs from October 5 to December 4, 2020. Are you an afterschool practitioner looking for high-quality, cost-free curriculum to help your students develop computer science skills and explore engineering? Do...

BY: Leah Silverberg      09/14/20

New Education Innovation and Research competition prioritizes STEM and computer science in latest call for proposals

On July 29, The United States Department of Education released the call for proposals for the FY2020 round of early and mid-phase EIR grants. The EIR competition provides funding to “create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated...

BY: Chris Neitzey      08/11/20

New report shows severe loss of capacity for outdoor and environmental science education

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders have stressed the opportunity for families to get outside and learn more about their natural surroundings. The opportunities to observe migratory patterns of birds, grow fruits and vegetables at home or in community gardens, and simply learn more about the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      06/12/20

February resources from Million Girls Moonshot

Welcome to the February installment of STEM resources from the Million Girls Moonshot. This month, Million Girls Moonshot resources are focused on diverse role models and mentors as a strategy to strengthen equity and inclusion in STEM programs. You’ll find podcasts, toolkits, and activity...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/22/21

STEM resources to support engineering mindsets from Million Girls Moonshot

Every month we’ll be publishing a list of resources and activities for afterschool programs to better engage students in STEM. These monthly posts are developed with resources shared from our partners at the Million Girls Moonshot. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/17/20

Out-of-school STEM during a pandemic: An interview with leaders from FIRST, Learn Fresh, and Girlstart

By Gemma Lenowitz, associate program officer for Inspired Minds at the Overdeck Family Foundation. This article was originally published on the Overdeck Family Foundation's website on November 30, 2020. It is reposted here with the author's permission. Erica Fessia is vice president of...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/01/20

Launch of Million Girls Moonshot boosts STEM learning for girls across the country

After a long-anticipated countdown, the Million Girls Moonshot officially launched on September 16. Established by the STEM Next Opportunity Fund in partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Intel Foundation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the effort will engage one million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/18/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Adaptive program model

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the fourth in a four-blog series: read the previous blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scales, or head to the first...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/16/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scale

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the third in a four-blog series: read the first blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs, and the second blog,...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/09/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Partnerships first

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the second in a four-blog series: read the first blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs. During the last...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/12/19

Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the first in a four-blog series: read the second blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Partnerships first. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that STEM jobs are...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/06/19

Promoting access to computer science for girls

Earlier this month, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted the work of Code.org in expanding access to computer science opportunities for girls. The 60 Minutes piece drew public attention to the growing number of tech-related jobs across the country and the lack of women currently filling these...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/26/19

February resources from Million Girls Moonshot

Welcome to the February installment of STEM resources from the Million Girls Moonshot. This month, Million Girls Moonshot resources are focused on diverse role models and mentors as a strategy to strengthen equity and inclusion in STEM programs. You’ll find podcasts, toolkits, and activity...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/22/21

STEM resources to support engineering mindsets from Million Girls Moonshot

Every month we’ll be publishing a list of resources and activities for afterschool programs to better engage students in STEM. These monthly posts are developed with resources shared from our partners at the Million Girls Moonshot. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/17/20

Out-of-school STEM during a pandemic: An interview with leaders from FIRST, Learn Fresh, and Girlstart

By Gemma Lenowitz, associate program officer for Inspired Minds at the Overdeck Family Foundation. This article was originally published on the Overdeck Family Foundation's website on November 30, 2020. It is reposted here with the author's permission. Erica Fessia is vice president of...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/01/20

Launch of Million Girls Moonshot boosts STEM learning for girls across the country

After a long-anticipated countdown, the Million Girls Moonshot officially launched on September 16. Established by the STEM Next Opportunity Fund in partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Intel Foundation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the effort will engage one million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/18/20

Free STEM learning opportunity: Facebook's Engineer for the Week!

We are excited to invite you to join Engineer for the Week's Fall 2020 Sprint! It runs from October 5 to December 4, 2020. Are you an afterschool practitioner looking for high-quality, cost-free curriculum to help your students develop computer science skills and explore engineering? Do...

BY: Leah Silverberg      09/14/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Adaptive program model

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the fourth in a four-blog series: read the previous blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scales, or head to the first...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/16/20

What does a new president and Congress mean for afterschool STEM?

President Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20, marking the beginning of a four-year term with the pandemic still front and center in the eyes of policymakers and the general public. The first steps for President Biden and Congress have been aimed at getting a handle on the pandemic, which...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/16/21

STEM resources to support engineering mindsets from Million Girls Moonshot

Every month we’ll be publishing a list of resources and activities for afterschool programs to better engage students in STEM. These monthly posts are developed with resources shared from our partners at the Million Girls Moonshot. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Million...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/17/20

From the STEM field: An innovative model to deliver STEM learning to under-served youth during the COVID-19 era

By Stephen White, Vice President of External Affairs, Strategic Initiatives, and Business Development and Allie Greiwe, Director of External Affairs at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, OH. This blog is a continuation of our series of case studies examining how informal STEM...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/10/20

How STEM learning is adapting in COVID-19

This blog post comes to us Rachael Van Schoik, Science Action Club Manager at the California Academy of Sciences. Over the coming months we’ll be highlighting how STEM programs have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue serving students with STEM activities, and what lessons we can...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/26/20

New report shows severe loss of capacity for outdoor and environmental science education

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders have stressed the opportunity for families to get outside and learn more about their natural surroundings. The opportunities to observe migratory patterns of birds, grow fruits and vegetables at home or in community gardens, and simply learn more about the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      06/12/20

Bringing STEM learning home during social distancing

These are difficult times for so many of our young people and their families. With school closures impacting families across the country, and extracurricular activities put on hold, finding ways for students to stay busy and engaged is likely at the top of mind for parents and guardians....

BY: Chris Neitzey      03/19/20