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Congressional Briefing on STEM in Afterschool a Big Success

By Sarah Simpson

 In conjunction with the release of our newest report, STEM Learning in Afterschool: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes, the House and Senate Afterschool Caucuses hosted a Congressional briefing on Monday to explore STEM learning in afterschool. We are very excited by the tremendous response we received; the room was packed with Congressional staffers, representatives from science and engineering professional societies, and organizations with a STEM education mission.

The briefing featured a comprehensive group of speakers from diverse organizations all dedicated to advancing STEM education and investment in afterschool:

  • Fernando Laguarda, Vice President, External Affairs and Policy Counselor, Time Warner Cable
  • Connie Chow, Ph.D., Executive Director, Science Club for Girls
  • Bronwyn Bevan, Ph.D., Director, Center for Informal Learning and Schools, Exploratorium
  • Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance; and
  • Anita Krishnamurthi, Ph.D., Director of STEM Policy, Afterschool Alliance

The panelists discussed the corporate interest in afterschool as a setting for STEM education, the impact of STEM learning on girls, and the research demonstrating how afterschool fosters interest and proficiency in STEM skills. The discussion connected the benefits of STEM afterschool programs to the larger goals of a more STEM-literate society and STEM-proficient workforce and supported the findings of our report: High-quality STEM afterschool programs yield STEM-specific benefits such as improved attitudes towards STEM fields and careers, increased STEM knowledge and skills, and higher likelihood of graduation and pursuing a STEM career.

The prospect of utilizing the afterschool space to bolster STEM education was met by much enthusiasm among the audience. Attendees were so engaged in the topic and excited by what the panelists had to say that the lively Q&A session at the end of the briefing didn’t seem to be enough. Many guests stayed to ask questions and have conversations with the speakers and each other until we had to be asked to vacate the room!

The positive responses and encouraging feedback we have received makes it clear that this is an area of great interest to many who are interested in reforming STEM education. Have you seen afterschool STEM programs in your community spark interest among youth? What are some of the best ways we can make STEM learning interesting, relevant and valuable to students?


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