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Bright House Networks gives kids bright ideas for Lights On Afterschool

By Robert Abare

(L to R) Brevard Afterschool explores STEAM at NASA, Greenfield Union's After School SUCCESS Program gets gooey with "JiggleJelly," and an Indianapolis Parks & Recreation Afterschool student studies rocks before heading to the Indiana State Museum.

Nearly 1,000 children will tinker with, explore and experience the real-world wonders of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) during this year’s Lights On Afterschool, thanks to STEM Experience mini-grants from Bright House Networks. Seven afterschool programs across the country were awarded $2,000 each to partner with local science centers and museums to engage kids in fun, hands-on STEM learning, from robots and rockets to programming and polymers.

Here’s a roundup of the STEM experiences taking place throughout October:

Brevard Afterschoolthe afterschool program of Brevard Public Schools in Viera, FL, turned the Lights On Afterschool in a galaxy far, far away! On Oct. 16, 100 students from two elementary schools gathered to explore STEAM at the Space Mirror Memorial located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Students learned about the electromagnetic spectrum and the solar system by completing Star Wars-themed activities—objectives included finding a lost Han Solo and landing Yoda’s ship safely on Dagobah.   

The City of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department coordinated a full-day field trip to the Indiana State Museum for approximately 250 students from five area middle schools. Before embarking on their trip on Oct. 19, the students rolled up their sleeves for an introductory project on the science of rocks and minerals. At the museum, students continued to explore our planet’s marvels through an interactive geology workshop and by touring exhibits like “Birth of the Earth,” “Ancient Seas,” and “Age of Ice.”

The After School SUCCESS Program of Greenfield Union School District in Bakersfield, CA, will celebrate Lights On Afterschool and STEM all month long by holding science club meetings at three elementary and middle schools. On Oct. 20, more than 60 students involved in the science clubs commemorated national Lights On Afterschool day by taking a field trip to Kern County Museum, where they learned the slimy and sticky science of polymers in a STEM workshop called “JiggleJelly.”

The Birmingham Regional Empowerment and Development Center (BREAD) of Alabama will take students on a field trip to the McWane Science Center, where mind-boggling phenomena and interactive exhibits await them at a Science Spectacular Show and the Student Adventure Hall and Museum.145 kids will participate on Oct. 21 and 22.

The Farmington Family Branch of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit will host SCIENCEPALOOZA, an interactive STEM learning program coordinated by the Michigan Science Center, on Oct. 29. SCIENCEPALOOZA encourages kids to ask questions and embark on lifelong learning by introducing them to concepts across the sciences. 80 children from ages 5 to 11 are expected to participate.

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida is collaborating with the Orlando Science Center throughout October to bring Destination STEM workshops to eight local middle schools. Destination STEM will introduce more than 200 children to all aspects of STEM through hands-on experiments, which include launching model rockets, hitting targets with lasers, and dissecting a sheep’s heart!

The Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay, FL will partner with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) to take 100 children on an exploration of scientific concepts at the museum. Bright House Networks representatives will judge science projects completed by youth involved in program.

Partnering with science centers and museums is one smart way to help make afterschool a hub for STEM learning. Learn more about the critical role afterschool programs can play in fueling kids’ interest and abilities in STEM in our new report, Full STEM Ahead: Afterschool Programs Step Up as Key Partners in STEM Education. You can also gain the tools to build the strongest case for STEM education in your afterschool program by exploring our new website, Afterschool STEM Hub!

Have strong STEM minds in your program? Help high school students get their ideas ready for the Bright Ideas contest