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 out-of-school-time division, Immersion Learning, which focuses on developing multi-media ocean science curricula.
Following up on my colleague’s fantastic post on available resources on girls in STEM to celebrate Women’s History Month, I want to highlight a recent report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, “The State of Girls: Unfinished Business.”
The primary takeaway from this in-depth report that covers several key issues affecting girls’ healthy development is that there is progress to be proud of regarding girls’ educational attainment, reduction of risky behaviors, extracurricular activities and connection to technology. For example, the report found that there are 130 women enrolled in college for every 100 men, girls make up less than one-third of juvenile arrests and more than half of high school girls play on at least one sports team. However, as the report’s title implies, there’s still much more to be done.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to recognize the incredible work being done in the afterschool field to encourage and support girls in STEM. Below are a selection of recent publications and a list of girl-serving afterschool and summer programs actively working on the best ways to engage girls in STEM learning.
And for a bit of history, all this month, the National Girls Collaborative Project is highlighting women who have made and are currently making a significant impact in the STEM fields.
What resources would you add to this list? Add your comments below or send us a tweet @afterschool4all!
- SciGirls Seven: How to Engage Girls in STEM (2013)
- Effective STEM programs for adolescent girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned (2013)
- Build IT: Scaling and Sustaining an Afterschool Computer Science Program for Girls (2012)
- Project Exploration’s Sisters4Science: Involving Urban Girls of Color in Science Out of School (2010). For a summary, see this research brief.
- The Girl Game Company: Engaging Latina Girls in Information Technology (2009). For a summary see this research brief.
- Evaluating Promising Practices in Informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Girls (2008). From the Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Encouraging Girls in Math and Science: A Practice Guide (2007). From the Institute of Educational Sciences and the Department of Education.
One of the funnier slides from Jaime’s presentation
The use of technology raises a lot of contradictory and complex concerns: too much use; too little access; social disconnectedness; dismal STEM pipelines. Jaime Casap, Google’s senior education evangelist, didn’t have answers for everything, but he made some compelling points during his presentation at the National AfterSchool Association Annual Conference on approaching learning today—something that, in his view, can’t be done without considering the role of afterschool, and the role of technology. Here are a couple points I walked away with:
“Kids are wired differently these days.” Referencing what we know about evolution, Jamie took this one down pretty effectively, saying that brains are not now fundamentally different, and we should not look at our kids as though they are built differently. Like us, they are not good at multitasking. They can’t do two things at once any better than we can.
On March 3, just one day before the president released his FY2015 budget proposal, the House Budget Committee issued a report on federal spending related to federal antipoverty efforts entitled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later. Among the 92 federal programs reviewed in the report is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.
The Budget Committee report seeks to examine the effectiveness of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty" that was launched 50 years ago. According to the report, there are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans, including education and job-training programs, food-aid programs and housing programs.
The report does include a brief entry on the 21st CCLC initiative, the only coordinated federal effort that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered by local schools and community-based organizations. 21st CCLC programs provide students attending high-poverty schools with academic enrichment activities; a broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program such as hands-on experiments to excite children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), access to physical activity, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, opportunities to be creative, and technology education programs; as well as literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program. In addition, afterschool programs provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, and nutritious snacks and meals.
By Luci Manning
U.S. Naval Academy Workshops for Girls in Middle School Build Interest in Math, Sciences (Washington Post, District of Columbia)
In an effort to encourage middle school girls to get excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, the U.S. Naval Academy hosted workshops last week to give girls hands-on learning opportunities. At the event, girls dissected a sheep’s heart, launched straw rockets, and navigated Lego robots through a maze. Lacey, an Annapolis seventh-grader, told the Washington Post that the bioterrorism workshop was “different from my regular science class in school, I like to see how science works in the real world and how important it is.” The Naval Academy has hosted girls-only events since 2007 to build interest in STEM fields.
Barking Up the Right Tree (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)
Reading just got a little more fun for kids who attend the YMCA BARKS (Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk) afterschool program. Thanks to a new partnership between the Suffolk Humane Society and the Suffolk YMCA, 39 students are able to boost their reading levels by reading out loud to therapy dogs. Rick Matthews, district vice president of the YMCA of South Hampton, told the Virginian-Pilot the program is “all about building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.”
MPS Program Uses Hip-hop, Performance to Boost Academics (Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin)
A hip-hop afterschool program at Sherman Park’s Washington High School gives students the opportunity to tap into their creative side and the confidence to apply their talents in the classroom. Dave Olsen and Jeremy Bryan, The Figureheads, founded the educational rap group in partnership with Arts @ Large, a nonprofit dedicated to growing arts education in Milwaukee Public Schools. The Figureheads told the Journal Sentinel that they want the students to voice what is going on in their lives, and to express who they are and what they want to be. The students then combine their emotional testimony with technological skills like creating beats, recording lyrics and adding videos.
By Luci Manning
Cut out Junk Food Ads in Schools, Government Says (Associated Press, National)
Yesterday, first lady Michelle Obama announced that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association will serve more fruits and vegetables at afterschool programs and ensure kids get 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day. The announcement was part of the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Mrs. Obama said “This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad," the Associated Press reports.
Later Gator, the new afterschool program at Lake Cormorant Elementary, offers a “life-changing experience” for its students, the Desoto Times reports. Dr. Margaret Boyd, Lake Cormorant Elementary school principal and founder of Later Gator, said she started the program to help “working parents whose jobs often prevent them from helping children with their homework.”
Empowerment Circle Expands Horizons (Marion Star, Ohio)
Members of the Girls Empowerment Circle at Grant Middle School and Marion Harding High School are learning about dating violence so they can educate themselves and other students about healthy relationships. The group, which is funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, is comprised of about 13 to 15 girls who are dedicated to helping their peers make smart life decisions. Not only do they help others by providing important information and resources, but organizer Rosalind Burks explains to the Marion Star that the program encourages girls to set goals for themselves, engage in community service and to continue their education after graduating from high school.
STEM Pilot Exposes Young to Tech, Science Careers (Journal-News, Ohio)
Elementary and junior high students in Hamilton will be able to enjoy a new afterschool program focused primarily on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education starting next month. Tyrome Bembry, founder of the new pilot program STEM2Dream program, told the Journal-News that the program is targeting kids from an under-served neighborhood because “STEM education will give them the ability to dream. It’s a tool they can use to fight the war on poverty.”
To celebrate last week’s national Engineers Week, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar featuring three incredible afterschool programs engaging students in engineering, computing and technology education. We were joined by:
- Jen Joyce, Director of Professional Development at Techbridge in Oakland, CA
- Andrew Coy, Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD
- Maureen Psaila-Dombrowski, Program Coordinator at the Santa Fe Institute, representing Project GUTS
All three were featured in our latest issue brief on computing and engineering, and they were able to provide a clearer picture on what has made their afterschool programs successful. Program profiles in our Afterschool STEM Storybook provide additional information. You can watch the full recording and view the slides on our webinar archives page. Below is a quick re-cap!