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FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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STEM funding opp: Enter the 2018 Possibility Grants sweepstakes

By Charlotte Steinecke

Make your lab a little more fab: enter the Siemens 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes! K-12 schools are eligible to enroll in the sweepstakes and vote daily for their school, from now until the deadline on April 27. Check out the possibilities with the #IDreamofSTEM hashtag.

Grant Name: 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes

Description: $10,000 to spend on STEM technology and resources.

Eligibility requirements: All K-12 schools are eligible to apply. Educators can enter daily. The winner will be chosen through random drawing.

Deadline: 5 p.m. ET on April 27, 2018.

How to apply: You can enter daily for a chance to win – simply enter your school information here, and you’ll be able to vote for your school as often as you’d like! Previous winners are not eligible to enter. See the official rules here.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity STEM
JAN
31
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 31, 2018

By Luci Manning

Community Schools a Way to Improve Education (Commercial Appeal, Tennessee)

Knoxville businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd vouches for community schools – like the one he helped launch at Pond Gap Elementary School – as a way to help low-income students overcome disadvantages in an op-ed for the Commercial Appeal: “Over the years of being very actively involved in our public education system, it has become clear to me that not all education solutions can be solved solely within the classroom…. From local churches to Boy Scouts and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the school becomes the hub for the community and the access point to reach parents and children…. Turning around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools will require a team effort. Community schools may be one place to start.”

Bridging Gaps, Building Hope (Washington Post, Virginia)

Through a Hutchinson Elementary School afterschool program, immigrant students are forging bonds with local police officers and learning not to fear law enforcement. Project Hope invites Herndon and Fairfax police officers to the school to participate in fun activities with students, like competing in kickball games, playing cards or enjoying ice cream. The afterschool club helps keep students away from gangs and gives parents and community members, many of whom are immigrants from violent countries like El Salvador and Honduras, peace of mind when interacting with law enforcement. “We didn’t want our parents to be fearful when they come into the school,” principal Ray Lonnett told the Washington Post. “So, we’ve really worked to build this partnership to make sure our entire community can feel comfortable with the police.”

Young People: The Single Most Important Investment in Our Future (Garden Island, Hawaii)

Former state Senator Gary Hooser, who currently serves as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action and executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative, makes the case for more county and community investment in youth programs in the Garden Island: “What would be the impact on drug use and abuse among our youth if their choices of after-school and weekend activities included a strong and wide array of programs including theater, art, hula, skateboarding, mountain biking…. Supporting our existing youth programs and expanding them to accommodate the needs and interests of all of our youth, must be a county and a community priority.”

West Hancock Kids Learn Science Can Be Delicious (Britt News Tribune, Iowa)

Hancock County Extension’s After School Kids Club is teaching third- and fourth-graders about the science behind their favorite foods. Recently, students learned about why Pop Rocks pop and sizzle when they put them in their mouths, and in the coming weeks they will explore the science behind treats like rock candy, cheese and ice cream. Third-grader Sophie Aitchison explained what she enjoys most about the program to the Britt News Tribune: “It’s not just like plain science. You get to eat during the lesson.”

JAN
23
2018

STEM
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Call for submissions to afterschool-themed issue of Connected Science Learning

By Leah Silverberg

Connected Science Learning is looking for you to submit to the fall issue highlighting afterschool partnerships! A project of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Connected Science Learning focuses on sharing the effective methods of collaboration and programming between out-of-school and in-school learning Geared toward STEM education professionals, the online, peer-reviewed, journal highlights research, programs, and initiatives connecting preK-12 students with STEM learning opportunities. First published in March of 2016, the journal has had issues focusing on STEM education for early learners, STEM learning ecosystems, and more.

What type of articles are they looking for?

Connected Science Learning publishes original research showing outcomes and impacts of in-school and out-of-school STEM learning partnerships. Submissions go through a double-blind peer-review process and extensive editing with assistance from the Connected Science Learning editorial team. In addition to issue-specific features, articles can be submitted under three categories: “Research to Practice, Practice to Research,” “Emerging Connections,” and “Diversity and Equity.”

JAN
22
2018

STEM
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Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

By Leah Silverberg

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter, and includes the latest policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new research in the field. Written by the subject area experts at the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab report is your one-stop-shop for STEM education advocacy needs.

Who should subscribe?

Short answer: anyone with an interest in afterschool STEM education! While the tools are geared towards advocacy, our talking points, and communications materials can be used by anyone to effectively make the case about why afterschool STEM learning is important. If you run a program, build local or state systems, conduct research, or design policy, the Afterschool Lab Report has something for you.

October's Lab Report included:

It is not too late to stay informed and sign up to receive the January edition of the Afterschool Lab Report to your inbox! You can also check out the past editions and the rest of the Afterschool STEM Hub website any time online.

DEC
15
2017

STEM
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Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

By Stephanie Rodriguez

Stephanie Rodriguez and a student at Tubman Elementary participate in the Hour of Code on December 6

Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week) 2017 was an exciting time for the Afterschool Alliance and the CS education community at large. The Afterschool Alliance shared key resources for afterschool computer science throughout the week, including:

Here’s a look at a few highlights from the week!

Launch event with corporate partners on December 4

Code.org kicked of CS Ed Week with a launch event that featured female technology powerhouses, including Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg, offering words of wisdom and inspiration for all kids to pursue opportunities in computing. In celebration of the 2017 CS Ed Week, Code.org and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced their inaugural Champions for Computer Science. We were thrilled to see that the value of afterschool CS was recognized within the winners of their “organization” category! Alexandra Liggins, co-founder of South Bend Code School, accepted the award, which recognized the great work their out-of-school time program does in bringing computer science learning to students age 7 to 18 across Indiana.

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learn more about: Congress STEM Computer Science
DEC
13
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 13, 2017

By Luci Manning

Contest Pitting Students Against JPL Engineers Draws a Vast Pool of Contenders (La Cañada Valley Sun, California)

Students from around the world, including those in Los Angeles afterschool programs, faced off against teams of engineers from La Cañada’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last week as part of JPL’s annual Invention Challenge, an initiative meant to inspire future STEM professionals. This year’s challenge was to build a device that could load ten plastic balls into a tub six meters away within one minute, according to the La Cañada Valley Sun. “Being at JPL has brought [engineering] into my horizon,” 16-year-old participant Cristian Bonilla said. “Even though we didn’t do as great as other people, it feels great to have come this far.”

Community Schools a New Tradition for Education (Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico)

Mary Parr-Sanchez, Truancy and Dropout Prevention Coach at Las Cruces Public Schools, and David Greenberg, Education Initiative Director at Ngage New Mexico, praise the community schools model in the Las Cruces Sun-News: “For many years, community schools have been expanding the role of schools. Instead of shutting down in the evenings, weekends and summers, community schools have remained open to serve a variety of needs…. Community schools are not about doing something ‘to’ a school, but supporting a school and community to facilitate change from within…. We are grateful that local leadership on our School Board and City Council are moving this work forward so that in the near future, every child will have opportunity to attend a community school.”

Church to Pick Up the Tab for After-School Care (Eastern Express Times, Pennsylvania)

The Life Church has offered to pay for an afterschool program at Paxinosa Elementary School to offer disadvantaged students enrichment opportunities and give a break to their working parents. The Easton Area School District is now looking for an organization to run the program, without having to worry about costs. “We felt called there,” church spokeswoman Tara Craig told the Eastern Express Times. “We feel it’s where we’re supposed to be and are excited to see it happen.”

‘Three Little Pigs’ Tale Helps Teach North Charleston Kids Money Smarts (Post & Courier, South Carolina)

An afterschool reading program in North Charleston recently added financial literacy to its curriculum, to teach children how to manage their finances at an early age. The Felix Pinckney Community Center drew lessons from stories like “Three Little Pigs” to teach students about the importance of saving money and sharing with those in need. Dorothea Bernique, founder of the Increasing H.O.P.E. Financial Training Center, told the Post & Courier, “It’s not about the amount, but establishing a new behavior that can literally change your life and help break that cycle of poverty.” 

DEC
8
2017

STEM
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Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet their goals. Additionally, it can be challenging to train and support facilitators—either afterschool educators or other community volunteers.

In our webinar on Wednesday, December 6, two inspiring speakers working on these issues presented insights and resources: Sarah Carter, from SciGirls, shared tips on choosing tools and developing curricula, and Ricarose Roque, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, shared her model for family engagement called Family Creative Learning. To get the full experience, watch the recording and view the presentation slides. Be sure to check out the hashtag #CSEdweek to see all the conversations happening on social media!

Getting clear on definitions and goals

There are a litany of terms used when talking about creating technology—"computer science," "coding" or "programming," "computing," "tech skills," "media literacy," and more! Our speakers told us that being specific and intentional about using these terms, particularly when defining your program’s focus and goals, is incredibly important. It is key to think about what’s most appropriate for the out-of-school time environment and ensure that we meet youth development or other philosophical goals.

For example, Sarah explained that the approach to her current project, SciGirls Code, is shaped by a blend of computational thinking and connected learning principles, and is founded on the SciGirls Seven, a set of research-based gender equity strategies. Ricarose has developed the concept of “Computational Creators”, which means the goal is for students is to be able to use computing to create things they care about, develop identities as creators, and see the ways they can shape the world. All educators should spend some time considering the vary approaches and frameworks out there to determine the best approach for their students and community needs.

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls Webinars