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FEB
27

STEM
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Opportunity to partner with a library

By Dan Gilbert

Children building a “ball contraption” in the Discover Tech exhibit at Mary Wood Weldon Public Library. From: http://www.starnetlibraries.org/gallery.html

We’ve talked a lot about how science centers and museums can be great partners, and we wanted to let you know that libraries can be great partners as well.  That’s why the Afterschool Alliance is excited to introduce a great new partnership opportunity around STEM learning!

STAR_Net, a national initiative to bring museum-quality science exhibits into libraries, was developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute, and has extended the invitation to libraries around the country to apply to host one of three interactive STEM exhibitsDiscover SpaceDiscover Earthand Discover Tech.

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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FEB
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 25, 2015

By Luci Manning

The 'T' in STEM: KidsTek Celebrates 15 Years (Denver Post, Colorado)

A small busload of well-dressed high school students arrived early at Mile High Station on Thursday with computers in tow. While a bit shy, any one of them could demonstrate how to troubleshoot a computer that stubbornly refused to get on a company network, thanks to the skills they learned at KidsTek, a nonprofit afterschool program that teaches technology to minority and lower income students. The program wants to steer high school students into computer careers, but they hope the skills they learn through the program can help them on whatever path they choose. “It’s not about getting them interested in technology. That is a byproduct,” executive director Richard Liner told the Denver Post. “We’re trying to give the kids the tech knowledge they need for any career they get into.”

Boise Rock School Rolls into Treasure Valley’s Cultural Scene (The Statesman, Idaho)

At 4 PM on any given weekday, a stream of kids rushes through the doors at Boise Rock School. The afterschool program teaches kids to rock like AC/DC or croon like Sam Smith, with classic rock, pop and indie folk music all mixing in the common area. What makes Rock School unique is that the students drive the curriculum – teachers are mostly there to coach and nurture, not push and prod. For kids who can’t make it to the actual Rock School, the program’s nonprofit arm, Rock on Wheels, visits schools, juvenile corrections facilities, homeless shelters and the Horseshoe Bend school district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. “We throw around the word ‘cool’ a lot, but this really is,” program director Kim Hall told the Idaho Statesman. “This is an opportunity for these kids to shine that they might not get in other areas of their lives.”

Program Teaches About Girls Who Rock (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

What do Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Bethany Hamilton – the surfer whose left arm was bitten off in a shark attack – have in common? They are strong women who overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams. They are the kind of women fifth graders learn about in the afterschool program Girls Who Rock (GWR) in Beloit. At GWR, girls chat with adult female mentors about self-esteem, friendship, good decision-making and more. Each session finishes with a large group circle where girls can discuss their lives. Founder and coordinator Jan Knutson said that fifth grade is the perfect time for girls to gain more self-esteem before entering middle school. “Role models are really important, especially for kids this age,” she told the Beloit Daily News.

After-School Programs a Big Hit in Westerly (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

At one end of State Street Elementary school, a small group of students is learning how to putt. Down the hall, another group is rehearsing lines for a play. In various classrooms in between, students are learning Italian, singing in a music ensemble, cooking, learning jazz dance and a little about nutrition. However, all of this takes place after the school day ends.  “It’s the second year the school has offered its afterschool enrichment program, and it’s thriving,” the Westerly Sun reports.  Organizers had to turn away 60 students who wanted to participate.

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learn more about: Science Arts
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FEB
25

POLICY
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Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act (HR 1042) in the House of Representatives.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill was announced at an event in Flint, Mich. last week and is companion legislation to bipartisan S. 308 introduced previously in the Senate.  A summary of the legislation is available here.

The reintroduction of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act comes as the full House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote this week on HR 5, a partisan ESEA reauthorization bill that would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that can be used for afterschool or in-school programming.

The House Afterschool for America’s Children Act:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
24

STEM
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STEM Education Act reintroduced in House and headed to the floor today

By Sophie Papavizas

Congress has returned from the President’s Day recess, and while the Senate grapples with the Department of Homeland Security funding bill, the House will consider several education bills.  Among those bills is the bipartisan STEM Education Act (H.R. 102), which was reintroduced in the House on February 20, 2015 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  The bill is considered non-controversial and passed under suspension of the rules last Congress with widespread bipartisan support but saw no action once passed to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  The Afterschool Alliance wrote about the STEM Education Act last August when it was first introduced.

The STEM Education Act is a short bill with three main goals:

  1. It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science;
  2. Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities; and
  3. Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields.

Let Congress know you support their commitment to afterschool STEM by contacting them today to discuss the STEM Education Act, the Supporting Afterschool STEM Act and the Afterschool for America’s Children Act!

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Science
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FEB
23

STEM
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Cognizant awards 34 grants to provide Maker programming in out-of-school time

By Sophie Papavizas

Cognizant has announced its grantees for the 2015 Making the Future program.  The program provides grants to community based organizations to run hands-on, Maker Movement-inspired programs in afterschool or summer camp settings.  This year, the 34 total grants will provide Maker programming to 5,000 students across 54 sites.  Working in partnership with the Maker Education Initiative and the New York Hall of Science , Cognizant committed in 2014 to providing 1.5 million hours of making experiences to 25,000 youth in over 200 communities by the end of 2017. Maker programs allow to students to be exposed to a range of STEM activities in informal and creative environments.

For more information about Maker spaces and Maker programs in afterschool check out our webinar series on making in afterschool—part 1part 2, and part 3.  And stay tuned for a spring webinar about equity and making with the Exploratorium’s Afterschool Tinkering NetworkCommunity Science Workshops and the Computer Clubhouse!

The 2015 grantees are:

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learn more about: Science
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FEB
18

STEM
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Guest blog: Help advance STEM education by participating in a brief survey

By Rachel Clark

Kelly Riedinger is the Director of Research and Evaluation at David Heil & Associates.

While there is a wealth of research-based knowledge in STEM education, there is currently no easily accessible, user-friendly resource for practitioners that bridges formal and informal (i.e., out-of-school) settings.  The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association for Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) received an NSF Grant (Award No. 1420262) to develop, pilot, and evaluate a new resource that seeks to better connect practitioners in these settings with each other, and the rapidly growing research and knowledge base about STEM learning.  The proposed new resource will highlight successful curricula and programs that are based on STEM education research across formal and informal, out-of-school STEM education communities.

In collaboration with the NSTA and ASTC, David Heil & Associates, Inc. (DHA) is conducting a front-end study to gain insight regarding the potential for such a resource.  As part of this study, we are administering a survey to gather data and feedback. If you are a STEM afterschool program provider, we would like to invite you to participate in this survey.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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FEB
12

STEM
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Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Act reintroduced in House

By Sophie Papavizas

Representatives Paul Tonko, Joe Kennedy, David McKinley, and Rodney Davis have reintroduced the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act (H.R. 823), which seeks to amend several pieces of legislation to remove the barriers at the federal level for K-12 engineering education by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Education Science Reform Act.

The legislation:

  • Ensures that engineering design skills are part of science standards in each state and authorizes the use of State Assessment Grants to integrate engineering into state science tests
  • Sets aside a portion of Title II funds for STEM professional development for STEM professional development through the Teacher and Principal Training and Recruitment Fund
  • Amends the Education Science Reform Act of 2002 to authorize the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to expand the scope of their research activities from sole math and science to include all STEM subjects with a focus on identifying best practices and promising innovations
  • Amends the Math and Science Partnership Program to include all STEM subjects encompassing engineering and computer science

For the afterschool community it is important to note that the bill also amends the section of Title 4 relating to 21st Century Community Learning Centers by expanding the current priorities of the program from “math and science” to STEM to allow the use of funds for afterschool programs in subjects such as engineering, technology and computer science instead of just mathematics and traditional science subjects like biology, chemistry and physics.  A similar change to include STEM is also included in the After School for America’s Children Act introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer last week.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Science
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FEB
11

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 11, 2015

By Luci Manning

Teenage Chess Whiz From Fair Lawn Teaches Young Players (The Record, New Jersey)

After school eager Fairmount Elementary School students line up across from each other on a block-tiled linoleum floor resembling a giant chessboard. At Greg Gabovich’s command, they walk forward until they’re standing diagonally opposite each other and high five, demonstrating how a pawn can conquer another piece in chess. High school senior and internationally-ranked competitive chess player Gabovich created the Chessmates afterschool program a year ago, crediting the game with helping him develop analytical thinking and a love for math. “The thing is, if you can tie education to a student’s passion, the student is going to do better in all aspects of their education,” Scott Demeter, Gabovich’s former history teacher who helped him draft interactive lessons for Chessmates, told The Record.

Educational Puzzles Solved Together on Challenge Island (The News & Observer, North Carolina)

Sometimes, it takes creative methods to get kids to learn. In the case of the Challenge Island afterschool program, the lesson plans borrow some of the methods – and challenges – from the popular reality show, “Survivor.” Challenge Island is an afterschool program for elementary students that reinforces STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and core language arts skills through hands-on learning encouraging children to work together to come up with innovative solutions. “Kids really learn to work together, using the scientific method, designing, testing, revising and testing until complete,” owner Tom Harrington told the News & Observer. Harrington said he is especially impressed with the collaboration among students. “Usually, children don’t start to learn to work like that until middle school but we’re doing it in first grade,” he said.

For STEAM Studio Students, Class Is in the Architects’ Loft (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, a group of young girls in Kansas City gather in the third-floor loft space of the architectural firm Gould Evans, an unconventional classroom known as STEAM Studio. The “anti-classroom” is the brainchild of Rockhurst University assistant professor of education Mandi Sonnenberg, who aims to inspire students to be more innovative and encourage non-traditional thinking by bringing them to unusual creative spaces for learning. On this particular afternoon, the girls’ only assignment is to explore and create using the firm’s supplies to bring their design ideas to life through fabric, white paper, scissors and glue.  “The collaboration began earlier this school year as Rockhurst University enlisted afterschool groups to pilot the program,” the Kansas City Star reports.

San Jose Mayor Unveils Plans for After-School Programs, Teen Jobs (Contra Costa Times, California)

In one of his first new initiatives as mayor, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a plan to spend public money to provide afterschool programs to city kids and teens. Mayor Liccardo said the youth programs would help address two key issues in San Jose: public safety and the wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots. The Contra Costa Times reports, “Expanding afterschool programs is a popular strategy for city officials across the country to redirect trouble-prone kids into constructive activities like sports and music. Liccardo’s plan would target K-5 students and focus mostly on academic programs.”

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learn more about: Science Arts
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