The Expanding Minds and Opportunities compendium highlights persuasive evidence on the effectiveness of expanded learning (afterschool, summer, inter-session, etc.) opportunities. In one article, the authors state:
“…Quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities work. We know that quality expanded learning programs are associated with increased academic performance, increased attendance in school, significant improvement in behavior and social and emotional development, and greater opportunities for hands-on learning in important areas that are not typically available during the school day” (Peterson, Fowler, and Dunham, p. 357).
Lisa Mielke, a former zookeeper, is the Science Manager at TASC (The After-School Corporation). She leads STEM training and professional development for directors and front-line staff at out-of-school-time programs throughout New York City. One of the ways TASC supports schools and community partners to expand learning opportunities is to build the capacity of staff members to lead STEM inquiry.
This post originally appeared on TASC’s blog on Feb. 27, 2014.
As someone who trains hundreds of New York City out-of-school-time program directors and frontline staff every year, I’m excited about the best resource I’ve seen in ages for supporting more and better STEM learning. It’s a new, interactive professional development website called Click2Science.
We loved the message of this recent GE ad, “Childlike Imagination.” Already, it has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. Earlier this month we blogged about the importance of mentors for inspiring girls and other populations underrepresented in STEM. Working moms in STEM surely inspire their own daughters, and we hope they seek opportunities to inspire more girls in their community!
To celebrate last week’s national Engineers Week, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar featuring three incredible afterschool programs engaging students in engineering, computing and technology education. We were joined by:
- Jen Joyce, Director of Professional Development at Techbridge in Oakland, CA
- Andrew Coy, Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD
- Maureen Psaila-Dombrowski, Program Coordinator at the Santa Fe Institute, representing Project GUTS
All three were featured in our latest issue brief on computing and engineering, and they were able to provide a clearer picture on what has made their afterschool programs successful. Program profiles in our Afterschool STEM Storybook provide additional information. You can watch the full recording and view the slides on our webinar archives page. Below is a quick re-cap!
January’s National Mentoring Month celebrated the work of thousands of adults who make a difference in young people’s lives by offering stable relationships to support their academic and social development. The initiative also sought to raise awareness for the continued need for mentors. A new report from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found a significant mentoring gap, particularly for at-risk youth.
STEM-specific mentors are especially important to break down stereotypes about who practices STEM and to demonstrate the diversity in career options. The White House has recognized the need for more STEM professionals to mentor youth, which resulted in the US2020 initiative, calling on companies to allow their employees to volunteer as mentors.
In other big news, the Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative was launched last month, and to-date almost 45,000 have taken the pledge! In the near future, MWM plans to offer an online platform to provide STEM professionals with tools to become effective mentors and to connect with girl-serving youth organizations. Several groups working in the out-of-school-time space are official partners—Girls, Inc., 4-H, YWCA,Girlstart, the National Girls Collaborative Project and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.
Get your program recognized as a leader in STEM learning! Change the Equation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led coalition focused on advancing STEM literacy, is reopening STEMworks. The database is the premier tool for business leaders and other funders to identify and support exemplary programs that boost STEM interest and learning in the U.S.
Who’s eligible? Any STEM learning program that serves pre-K through 12th grade students and teachers, either in or out of school, is encouraged to apply for admission.* Each submission will be reviewed by WestEd, an independent, nonprofit research, development, and service organization, which will provide detailed and confidential feedback to each applicant on strengths and weaknesses of the application.
Our new issue brief, “Computing and Engineering in Afterschool,” explores how afterschool programs are offering innovative, hands-on computing and engineering education opportunities. Both these subjects have emerged as priority areas within the “STEM” fields.
Computing and engineering occupations make up the bulk of future STEM jobs—almost 80 percent—but there are significant issues of equity and access to these opportunities, as women and minorities are vastly unrepresented in these fields. Neither subjects are taught with regularity in schools and most students do not develop enough interest during their K-12 years to elect a computing or engineering major in college.
Computing is one of the fastest growing industries, and yet current rates of college graduation in computer science do not keep pace with the projected number of job openings over the next ten years. Many high-profile efforts have been launched to raise awareness of this issue and get students interested in computing. Most recently, the "Hour of Code" campaign launched during Computer Science Education Week attracted more than 15 million students to try their hand at computer programming.
|Boys & Girls Club youth run a dry ice experiment with their university mentors in the award-winning afterschool program Science Club.|
Afterschool programs have long partnered with other youth-serving and community organizations to better meet the needs of their students. As interest and momentum grow around STEM programming in afterschool, partnerships become increasingly important in offering high-quality, hands-on STEM experiences for youth.
Our latest issue brief, Partnerships with STEM-Rich Institutions, demonstrate several models of how afterschool programs are partnering with STEM-rich institutions like science centers and museums, universities and colleges, business and industry, and government agencies. The brief highlights the strengths of each type of STEM-rich partner and describes their potential contributions to afterschool programs. Here are just a few examples: