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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!

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

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

FY21 budget request looks familiar when it comes to STEM education

It’s been over a year since the Trump administration released their five-year STEM Education strategy, and in that time, appropriations for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, NASA, and other...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/27/20

State of STEM learning in Congress and the White House

Rural STEM Education Act introduced in House   A new bill, H.R. 4979 - Rural STEM Education Act, was introduced in the House on November 5 to address the lack of STEM education opportunities for students in rural areas. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Lucas (R-Okla.) and...

BY: Chris Neitzey      11/15/19

An exciting, rewarding experience for our youth

By Afterschool Ambassador Gwynette Williams, director of Collective for Youth, Omaha. When teens are struggling with issues they find difficult to talk about, how can they ask for help? Recently, my middle school students identified that question as a social issue they wanted to...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/16/19

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

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

The week of February 25 to March 3, 2019 is National Leap Into Science Week, the annual celebration of Leap Into Science, a national program with a mission to integrate open-ended science activities with children’s books and literacy efforts in libraries, museums, and out-of-school time...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/22/19

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

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

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

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

Education Innovation and Research grant provides opportunities for student apprenticeships

Eighteen new grantees were recently awarded Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants from the Department of Education. Developed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), EIR grants, which are inspired by the Investing in...

BY: Leah Silverberg      11/05/18

Renewed commitments to computer science at CSforAll Summit

On October 8, computer science (CS) educators and advocates descended on Detroit, Michigan for the 2018 CSforALL Summit. As part of this year’s summit, a special one-day working session, entitled Mo’ Time for CS Education, was held to bring practitioners, advocates, researchers, and...

BY: Chris Neitzey      10/29/18

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

The Kids Code Pilot Program, which passed the California Legislature earlier this year and was championed by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, will provide $15 million in funding over three years to expand access to coding in afterschool programs across the state. The pilot program will allow existing...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/21/18