This blog post was contributed by Laura Batt, director of educational programs at JASON Learning, an exploration-based organization that links students to real science and scientists. Laura works in JASON's Immersion Learning division, which focuses on bringing the thrill of scientific discovery to students in Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, 21st Century Learning Centers, and other out-of-school settings.
These days more people than ever drop their used bottles, cans, and paper into recycling bins. The benefits of doing so are well-known: recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and saves energy, to name a few. But despite the great progress toward making this kind of recycling commonplace, there's much more than we can do to give other types of products and materials a second life. To help get the word out, JASON Learning has partnered with industry leaders to create two contests that challenge youth to find creative ways to generate awareness about some other recycling efforts that are not so well-known.
On the heels of the new America After 3PM study that found that, despite rapid growth in afterschool participation, 1 in 5 children in the United States is unsupervised in the afternoons, students, parents, educators, community leaders, policy makers, business leaders and others rallied for afterschool programs on Thursday as part of the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool. The only nationwide rally for afterschool programs included more than 8,100 events in every corner of the country, and at U.S. military bases worldwide to highlight the many ways quality afterschool programs support children, families and communities.
America After 3PM found that there is huge unmet demand for afterschool programs; the parents of 19.4 million students said they would enroll their child, if an afterschool program were available. In response, in classrooms, community centers, science museums, parks and recreation centers, malls and other settings, more than one million people came together to celebrate and support the quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
As you gear up for your Lights On Afterschool event this week, be sure to keep in mind the great photo opps you’ll have with your students, families and event guests—it could earn you $2,000!
Bright House Networks is once again helping us shine a light on the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families with the Bright House Networks Photo Contest on Facebook.
From dancing to designing robots, we want to see all of the cool ways that afterschool programs engage kids. All you have to do is submit a photo of an afterschool activity that engages youth in your community. The photos with the top votes at the end of the public voting period will be eligible to win up to $2,000.
Guest Blog by Reinaldo Llano, director of corporate outreach and special projects at Bright House Networks. Reinaldo leads community relations at Bright House Networks, one of the nation's largest cable and Internet providers.
Do you know a high school student whose creative genius is aspiring to unfold?
It’s been said that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. They’re also tomorrow’s innovators and inventors. They are OUR future. They are the ones who can help create new opportunities for our local economies to prosper and flourish.
We are proud to support Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth, a multi-state competition where students dream up the coolest inventions to make their own life, community or even the world more awesome and show how STEM—that's science, technology, engineering and math—can bring their idea to life!
Lights On Afterschool, the nationwide celebration of afterschool programs on Oct. 23, is fast approaching! And this year, we're adding a very exciting component to the celebration—a partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer STEM programming in science centers around the country to celebrate Lights On Afterschool.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Noyce Foundation, we were able to work with ASTC to offer mini-grants of $1500 each to 20 science centers around the nation to form partnerships with afterschool providers in their communities. They will work together to design and implement an afterschool STEM programming experience as part of their Lights On Afterschool event. There will be a wide range of programming offered, from physics experiments to family star parties to environmental clean-up efforts. This initiative reflects our ongoing partnership with ASTC in support of our Commitment to Action made at the Clinton Global Initiative America, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States, bringing together leaders from various sectors to advance a number of domestic objectives, including education and skills development. Our commitment aims to increase partnerships between science centers and afterschool providers as a means to expand the quality and amount of informal STEM education.
The bipartisan STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031 introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), passed the House last month and is now in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill has three goals:
- It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science
- Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities
- Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields
Of particular interest to the out-of-school field, the bill gives a directive to NSF to continue awarding grants and using funds to support informal and out-of-school STEM learning with the goal of increasing engagement in STEM and improving learning outcomes. Grants and funding would support existing and new programs in places such as museums and science centers.
Guest Blog: Afterschool programs addressing healthy living and food insecurity through HEPA standards
Pam Watkins is the vice president of youth development services at YMCA Youth Development Services in Kansas City, Kansas, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador.
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of many afterschool programs nationwide that has embraced the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Recently, at one of our afterschool sites with a high rate of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, we had a family that had just moved here from California and enrolled four of their children in our program. The oldest child, Juan (name has been changed to keep anonymity), was ever-watchful over his siblings and was constantly correcting them if they were doing something inappropriate. After about a week the site supervisor overheard Juan tell his siblings that they needed to eat a snack because their mom had said she wasn't sure whether they would have dinner that night or not. When the site supervisor pulled Juan off to the side, he told her that his dad had still not found a job and his mom was working two part time jobs—but it still wasn't enough and they usually didn't have money for food.
The Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) and the MacArthur Foundation have announced their fifth Digital Media and Learning Competition—the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments. The Trust Challenge will award a total of $1.2 million—in $10,000 to $150,000 year-long development grants—to institutions and organizations that look to answer questions around trust, privacy, safety and learning in an open online world. Proposals will address questions such as:
- How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data?
- What tools do they need in order to navigate, collaborate and learn online with confidence?
- What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments?
- How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust?
Applications will be accepted Sept. 3 to Nov. 3, 2014.