NSF awards funding for convening of afterschool STEM field

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NSF awards funding for convening of afterschool STEM field

Over the last decade, the out-of-school time science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field has expanded rapidly. We have seen substantial growth in not only the numbers of STEM programs, but in the diversity of programming offered. While the availability of a multitude of learning opportunities has been shown to have many benefits to the students who participate in STEM programs, the rapid growth of the field has also presented a unique challenge to practitioners and researchers, who now need an ever increasing range of measurement tools to monitor the quality and outcomes of these afterschool STEM programs.

This is why we were thrilled to have received the news last week that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be awarding $250,000 to the University of Washington to convene both researchers and practitioners from the afterschool STEM field, in order to discuss, identify, and collaborate on improved measures for evaluating the impact of the out-of-school time STEM space. Our STEM team is looking forward to working with both the University of Washington and the National Girls Collaborative Project on this convening, including our Senior Vice President, Jen Rhinehart, who will serve as co-principal investigator.

Officially titled “From Common Measures to Measures in Common: A Convening to Enhance Measurement of Outcomes of Afterschool STEM Programs,” the aims of the convening are multifaceted. The goals of the conference are to: (a) articulate and map the range of intended outcomes of afterschool STEM programs; (b) identify how existing measurement and evaluation tools map on to intended outcomes; and (c) identify overlaps, complementarities, and gaps in the available tools in order to provide guidance to practitioners on how and why to select current evaluation tools and to researchers on directions for future tool development.

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