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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!

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

STEM learning in the president’s FY2020 budget proposal

It’s often said that a budget is a statement of priorities and last week a majority of President Trump’s priorities were laid out through his FY2020 budget proposal. Due to the partial government shutdown earlier this year, it was a full week before all of the details, specifically...

BY: Chris Neitzey      03/25/19

Free STEM resources for afterschool programs from Science Buddies

By Amy Cowen, online community manager at Science Buddies. Science Buddies, a non-profit organization providing free K-12 STEM education resources, strives to build STEM literacy by delivering fun and engaging STEM activities to all students, whether it is in school, out of school, or at home....

BY: Guest Blogger      03/08/19

National Leap Into Science Week celebrates science & literacy learning in OST

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/22/19

Participate in new research on STEAM in out-of-school time

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BY: Leah Silverberg      02/21/19

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming this January. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new research...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/24/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

What does the Trump administration’s 5-Year STEM Education Strategy mean for afterschool?

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

Guest blog: Bridging the equity gap via virtual inspiration

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BY: Guest Blogger      11/27/18

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

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BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Education Innovation and Research grant provides opportunities for student apprenticeships

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BY: Leah Silverberg      11/05/18

Renewed commitments to computer science at CSforAll Summit

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BY: Chris Neitzey      10/29/18

New California “Kids Code” program to expand computer coding in afterschool

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BY: Chris Neitzey      09/21/18

Start a Girls Who Code Club this fall!

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BY: Leah Silverberg      08/06/18

What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

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BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      02/22/18

Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter,...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/22/18

Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

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BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      12/15/17

Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

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BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

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

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Start a Girls Who Code Club this fall!

Girls Who Code wants to work with you to provide your students with high-quality computer science resources! A national nonprofit organization, Girls Who Code is working to close the gender gap in computer science professions. The Girls Who Code afterschool curriculum is FREE to participating...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/06/18

Guest blog: Inspiring New Mexico’s Youth STEMbassador program

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/09/18

Guest blog: 33 boys. Zero girls.

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BY: Guest Blogger      03/29/18

Storytelling & mentoring can bring STEM's Hidden Figures into the spotlight

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/26/18

Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

New commitments to equity, engagement at the CSforALL Summit

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BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      10/20/17