This post was written by Melissa Ballard, our new STEM Research Assistant, reflecting on her first week at the Afterschool Alliance.
As I enter my second week at the Afterschool Alliance, I can hardly believe just 10 days ago I was gearing up for another busy season of programs at a science center in Lansing, MI. During my three and a half years at Impression 5 Science Center, I mixed up gallons of slime, built rollercoasters, programmed video games, exploded random objects in the microwave, and other seriously fun experiments. Working directly with kids and a team of passionate educators has allowed me to understand what effective STEM education looks like.
While I truly love developing programs and facilitating STEM experiences for kids, I am excited to join the Afterschool Alliance to advocate for STEM learning in the afterschool setting on a national scale. In my new position as the STEM research assistant, I hope my experience and passion for informal science education will enhance my work here.
Amidst the bustle of the standard “new job” to-do’s, like getting to know my co-workers, catching up on current projects, and learning all I can about the organization, one event stood out. On my second day, Anita Krishnamurthi, our director of STEM policy, brought me to the Hart Senate Office Building for the 100 Women Leaders in STEM celebration hosted by STEM Connector. As we stood in the audience, I watched an impressive group of women honored for their role in mentoring and advocating for young women in STEM fields. I must admit, I was a bit in awe of all the accomplished women in the room, but seeing so many gathered in support of a cause I feel strongly about was an inspiration—both personally and professionally.
If my first week at the Afterschool Alliance is any indication, then I am in for a fantastic experience, and I am looking forward to getting to know the field and working to make afterschool a “must have” partner in STEM education!