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MAY
22
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Engaging families using the 5Rs

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Margaret Caspe and M. Elena Lopez of the Global Family Research Project. Global Family Research Project is pleased to share tips on tapping into students’ greatest resources - their families. Please feel free to use the visual on the 5Rs in your own materials and outreach.

A second grader named David, his parents, and his baby sister walk into a library and are transported into space.

No, it’s not the plot for a new edition of the Magic Tree House.

It’s STAR_Net—a project that supports libraries in providing hands-on, interactive science and technology learning experiences for their communities. Here’s what happened:  

David’s afterschool instructor reached out to invite families to a local library event on a Saturday afternoon after parents expressed interest in enrolling their children in programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). On the day of the event, librarians and afterschool instructors talked with the families about their knowledge of particular space and STEM concepts. David and his dad built a model solar system and his parents were able to connect to other families by competing in a quiz show game. In essence, the library and afterschool program worked together to reimagine how afterschool programs provide learning opportunities that involve families in meaningful ways.

These processes—reaching out to families, raising up their interests, reinforcing their knowledge, allowing them to relate to each other, and reimagining services and programs—are important ways that afterschool programs and libraries can jointly enage families in children’s learning. At Global Famiy Research Project, we call these the 5Rs. When afterschool and library leaders convey the value of family engagement and support a climate of innovation with the 5Rs, it becomes possible to design exciting learning experiences for the whole family.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
MAY
17
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 17, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Programs at Risk – Will Jerry Brown Help? (Sacramento Bee, California)

Advocates rallied yesterday at the California State Capitol to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to support funding for afterschool programs. The event was organized by the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, and speakers included several state senators and assemblymen. Following the rally, advocates delivered more than 8,000 letters to Gov. Brown expressing support for afterschool programs, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Charlie Dent Says He’ll Try to ‘Protect’ After-School Programs Trump Wants to Cut (Allentown Morning Call, Pennsylvania)

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent recently visited a Communities in Schools afterschool program at Washington Elementary School, expressing his support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which President Trump’s most recent budget proposal defunded. “We’re going to try and do what we can to protect a lot of these programs that help children coming from challenging socio-economic circumstances,” Dent told the Allentown Morning Call. More than 700 Allentown School District students could lose access to afterschool programs under the president’s budget proposal. 

Young Entrepreneurs Host Expo to Show Off Their Products (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)

Fifth- and sixth-grade students at Mitchell Elementary School are learning to develop and launch their own businesses through a 14-week afterschool program. EntrepreneurShip Investigation, sponsored by Western Nebraska Community College, teaches students how to sell and market products, culminating in an expo held earlier this month where students showed their work to their classmates. “It’s important for these children, because even though they may never want to be an entrepreneur, it gives them an appreciation for what their future bosses go through,” program head Ellen Ramig told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.

Students Work Around-the-Clock During 27-Hour Space Mission (Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia)

Six elementary school students blasted into space last week on the Intrepid, a trailer-turned-simulator in the Russell Elementary School parking lot, while their classmates worked in Mission Control to monitor the simulator’s altitude, speed and trajectory. The 27-hour launch simulation was the culmination of a unique afterschool program that teaches elementary schoolers the ins and outs of space exploration. Russell’s space program has been sending its young astronauts up in the Intrepid every year since 1998, according to the Marietta Daily Journal, building their teamwork and problem-solving skills along the way. 

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learn more about: Budget Federal Funding Science
MAY
10
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 10, 2017

By Luci Manning

Teenage Girls Who Code Get Encouragement from U.S. Bank (Marketplace)

U.S. Bank offered its support to six teams of girls participating in a coding challenge called Technovation, encouraging them to develop apps that would help people manage their finances. The teams, several of which were made up of Latin American and Somali immigrants, would meet after school in Minneapolis to work on their apps and prepare to pitch them at the competition, according to Marketplace. One of the apps, Piggy Saver, would help youths stick to financial goals and manage their money.

Students Learn that Science Is Everywhere (Clark Fork Valley Press & Mineral Independent, Montana)

Students in nine Montana afterschool programs have had the chance to collaborate with NASA scientists on special research projects over the past few months. Youths worked on creating drag devices that prepare a spacecraft to land on Mars, and helped build pressure suits for astronauts. “It’s great because they are finding that science is everywhere, not just in a science class,” Alberton/Superior 21st Century Community Learning Center program coordinator Jessica Mauer told the Clark Fork Valley Press & Mineral Independent.

Hmong Moms Learn English While Kids Are Tutored (Wausau Daily Herald, Wisconsin)

A new program at Horace Mann Middle School gives immigrant moms a chance to learn English without worrying about finding child care. The program, offered through a partnership between the Wausau School District and Northcentral Technical College, offers English as a second language lessons to parents in one room, and the Growing Great Minds afterschool program to students in another. Horace Mann Middle School enrichment coordinator Zoe Morning told the Wausau Daily Herald that this arrangement reinforces the value of education for children and gives financially disadvantaged immigrant families a chance to improve critical language skills.

Frisco Students Start Club to Create Unity in Divided Times (WFAA, Texas)

Two high school juniors are attempting to mitigate the divisive political atmosphere with an afterschool conversation club called The Bridge. The group stays after school once a week to discuss different social issues – from public education to race – in a friendly, respectful, open-minded environment. Founders Aaron Raye and Daniel Szczechowksi emphasize that they don’t want everyone to agree after the conversations, but they do want to give participants a chance to hear from those with different perspectives. Adults in the community are taking note – in fact, parents started a similar group just last week. “It gives you hope that people can talk to each other in a different way and find that respect,” Raye’s father Mike told WFAA

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learn more about: Science Youth Development Literacy
APR
10
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Trump budget would devastate afterschool STEM

By Leah Silverberg

By Ron Ottinger, the director of STEM Next, co-chair of the national STEM Funders Network, and the former executive director of the Noyce Foundation. Known as a leader and expert in STEM learning, Ron has spent the last nine years guiding the Noyce foundations initiatives in informal and out-of-school-time science. With STEM Next, Ron continues to work toward increasing STEM learning opportunities for youth nationally.

This blog was reposted with permission from STEM Next.  

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would deny millions of American youth the opportunity to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning; inhibit the development of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, inventors, and business leaders; and cut young people off from building the skills they need to advance in school, work, citizenship, and life.

If enacted by Congress, the President’s budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the single largest source of funding for afterschool and summer programs that enroll 1.6 million students across rural, urban, and suburban communities in all 50 states.

Afterschool and summer programs provide essential learning opportunities for young people. This is particularly true when it comes to STEM learning – a national priority.

And afterschool programs have the support of an overwhelming number of Americans: a recent Quinnipiac poll found 83% are opposed to cuts in afterschool funding.

The Administration has said there is no evidence that these programs are effective. That is simply not true.

MAR
20
2017

STEM
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An anti-education, anti-science budget proposal

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

As expected, President Trump’s long-awaited “skinny budget” contained deep cuts to domestic discretionary spending. Particularly disappointing to those of us in the afterschool STEM education community are the outright eliminations of the programs that help young people develop science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, literacy and proficiency—the currency needed to be hired in our modern world.

The elephant in the room

Let’s start with the biggest concern: the budget proposes to eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the sole federal funding source exclusively for afterschool. This program provides 1.6 million kids with innovative learning spaces after school.

Nearly 70 percent of parents with kids enrolled in afterschool programs report that their children receive some form of STEM learning opportunity in this setting. Not only that, 70 percent of all parents believe that afterschool programs should offer STEM activities and programming.

Don’t cut what works

Despite claims to the contrary, a great deal of widely available research illustrates the impact of afterschool programs, and substantial evidence documents STEM-specific outcomes. A recent multi-state study found that afterschool STEM programs are helping to close America’s skills gap. STEM Ready America, a recently-released compendium of articles from 40 experts, presents compelling evidence of the impact of afterschool STEM.

The Afterschool Alliance has long tracked outcomes and best practices in afterschool STEM programming, including a recent paper on the impacts of afterschool STEM. Our Afterschool Impacts Database offers a searchable, user-friendly collection of impacts data, and our STEM program profiles share examples of innovative afterschool STEM programs.

Additional proposed cuts in key areas for afterschool STEM

Collaboration between school and afterschool. The budget proposal does not mention the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program, the new Title IV Part A block grant program authorized under ESSA that focuses heavily on STEM education, including in afterschool. This likely implies that no funding is sought for this program.

This is a huge disappointment. The activities authorized under this grant specifically supported well-rounded learning activities with a strong emphasis on STEM education and encouraged collaboration among personnel in schools, afterschool programs, and informal programs to better integrate programming and instruction in STEM subjects.

Professional development. The budget also eliminates the $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title II of ESSA), which supports teacher professional development. The loss is a blow to afterschool STEM because these funds offer a way to support joint professional development and collaborations between in-school and out-of-school educators.

Programs. In addition to drastic cuts at the Department of Education, the proposal eliminates the $115 million budget for NASA’s Office of Education. This amounts to just 0.5 percent of NASA’s overall budget and less than 0.003 percent of the federal budget.

MAR
8
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 8, 2017

By Luci Manning

Chefs of the Future Contest Has Kids Cookin’ Good (Daily News, New York)

Thirteen youths competed this weekend to see who could come up with the healthiest, most interesting recipe in the Recipe Rescue competition, part of an afterschool program run by the Department of Youth and Community Development and Compass. The students chopped, mashed, baked and diced their ingredients to cook up recipes like basil chicken burgers and baked sweet potato fries. The aim of the competition was to develop student interest in culinary arts and dietary awareness, according to the Daily News.

Big City University Provides Academic Enrichment Fun (Cleveland Daily Banner, Tennessee)

An afterschool program is helping struggling students in Bradley County Schools rediscover the fun in academia. The program, Big City University, focuses its attention on students from low-income families and those who are failing two or more subjects at school, pairing them with academic tutors and leading fun enrichment classes in science, art and physical education. “We focus on character education, academics and on building and growing the community,” director Stephanie Reffner told the Cleveland Daily Banner.

It’s Full Steam Ahead for Kids (Daily News of Los Angeles, California)

Robots, catapults, miniature tanks and other clever inventions were on display at Los Angeles Unified’s Northwest STEAM Fest 2017, a tech showcase for students in San Fernando Valley Schools. Students from more than 100 schools in the area came to the event to show off their creations from their extracurricular science, technology, engineering, art and math programs. “It’s all in the name of science. Engineering. What I think is cool,” 15-year old Amanda Basinger, who built a da Vinci-inspired machine that fires off ping-pong balls, told the Daily News of Los Angeles.

Mayor Meets with K.E.Y. Zone Girls’ Group (Duluth Budgeteer, Minnesota)

Young women in the K.E.Y. Zone afterschool Girls’ Group had the chance to meet with a female role model last week, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. Mayor Larson spoke to the girls about her job and what it’s like to be a woman in a leadership position, bolstering their self-confidence and encouraging them to pursue whatever career they want when they grow up. “For the past several weeks we’ve been talking to the girls about what it means to be a leader and how you can become a leader for something that you’re passionate about,” Girl’s Club leader Shelby Chmielecki told the Duluth Budgeteer. “I think it’s really important for the girls to see a woman leader who works at the local level and to see that it’s an attainable goal.” 

MAR
3
2017

STEM
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Afterschool's role in preparing a STEM Ready America

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Afterschool STEM programming shone brightly under the spotlight this week with the release of a research study on outcomes and a compendium of articles presenting research and examples of effective afterschool STEM programming.

STEM Next at the University of San Diego (carrying on the work of the Noyce Foundation) and the Mott Foundation partnered to host an event at the National Press Club on March 1 celebrating afterschool STEM programming and its role in preparing young people for the workforce. Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr., an extremely distinguished scientist and professor at the University of Maryland gave the keynote address. Dr. Gates was also on President Obama's Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, where he played a key role in advocating for STEM education.  It was in this latter capacity that Dr. Gates discussed his belief in the value of informal and afterschool STEM learning, recognizing that drawing young people into STEM fields is often more of an emotional issue than an intellectual one.

This last point is a special strength of afterschool programs, evident in the findings from an 11-state study conducted by Dr. Gil Noam and his team at Harvard’s PEAR Institute and Dr. Todd Little and his team at Texas Tech University’s Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis, and Policy (IMMAP).  They gathered and analyzed outcomes reported by 1600 students and nearly 150 facilitators in 160 afterschool programs. The data show that afterschool STEM programs substantially increase young people’s interest in STEM fields and STEM careers and can also help students to think of themselves as capable of doing science.  You can read more about these findings.

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MAR
1
2017

STEM
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New research: afterschool STEM helps close America's skills gap

By Rachel Clark

21st century skills like critical thinking and perseverance are in high demand in today’s workforce—but executives report a severe gap between the skills they need and the skills workers have. New findings from the Afterschool & STEM System Building Evaluation 2016, previewed today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., demonstrate that afterschool programs play a vital role in closing the gap by helping students develop the skills to succeed in school, work, and life.

Supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next, the study surfaced several key findings that illustrate the potential for afterschool to prepare students for future success:

  • 72 percent of students reported an increase in their perseverance and critical thinking skills
  • 73 percent reported an increase in their personal belief that they can succeed at science
  • 78 percent reported a positive change in their interest in science
  • 80 percent reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge

Check out findings from the study in the new “STEM Ready America” compendium, alongside articles from 40 experts and thought leaders in the out-of-school time and STEM learning spaces—and stay tuned for the release of the full study later this month.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science