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Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

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Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of the “maker movement” and the pull toward a more DIY culture. The movement gained steam around 2005 with the publication of Make: Magazine (a guide to DIY projects and activities) and the start of Maker Fair exhibitions. Since then, creative people from all over the world have been developing spaces where community members can flock to learn about technology and gain the tools they need to create. 

While a key component of some maker spaces is an all-ages approach to learning, many maker spaces have offered youth-centered programming based on many of the best practices of hands-on and engaging science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. Pioneers in this space have been organizations like the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), located in Baltimore City, which provides programming to nearly 1,600 youth per year. The program helps students learn web development, digital fabrication, 3D printing, and more, while offering their youth opportunities to earn college credit and develop valuable skills for the future workforce. However, not all maker activities require computers and 3D printers. Aside from the more expensive technology resources exists making with cardboard, paper, and simple circuits.

From the afterschool field we hear that there are two primary barriers in providing quality STEM programming that resonate with the possible barriers in providing maker programming: 1) Access to technology; and 2) Staff confidence and ability in teaching STEM content. Understanding the lack of technological capacity of many afterschool programs across the country, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) along with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched a pilot initiative completed in 2015 to develop and implement STEM-rich making activities for 21st Century Community Learning Center programs. The activities that were developed provide students with hands-on projects to create basic circuitry skills using LEDs, batteries, motors, and more and are available online to educators at no cost. Developed as six lessons implemented in 60-90 minutes each, the programming acts as an introduction to the engineering and design process and what it means to be a maker.

Building off of that initiative and as part of a larger push from federal agencies to engage youth in STEM learning opportunities in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), IMLS and the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) are now collaborating with eight children’s museums and science centers across the country to provide professional development surrounding making. Using a train-the-trainer method, the participating eight science centers will receive training from NYSCI staff then go back to their communities to provide the same professional development to 40 21st CCLC sites, reaching up to 1,200 youth participants. This along with the other interagency agreements from NASA, NOAA, and NPS to provide STEM learning in 21st CCLC programs will span over three years and total a $10.7 million investment in expanding STEM opportunities for youth across the country.

Explore the IMLS STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Project here.

Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/12/19

An exciting, rewarding experience for our youth

By Afterschool Ambassador Gwynette Williams, director of Collective for Youth, Omaha. When teens are struggling with issues they find difficult to talk about, how can they ask for help? Recently, my middle school students identified that question as a social issue they wanted to...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/16/19

Promoting access to computer science for girls

Earlier this month, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted the work of Code.org in expanding access to computer science opportunities for girls. The 60 Minutes piece drew public attention to the growing number of tech-related jobs across the country and the lack of women currently filling these...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/26/19

STEM learning in the president’s FY2020 budget proposal

It’s often said that a budget is a statement of priorities and last week a majority of President Trump’s priorities were laid out through his FY2020 budget proposal. Due to the partial government shutdown earlier this year, it was a full week before all of the details, specifically...

BY: Chris Neitzey      03/25/19

Free STEM resources for afterschool programs from Science Buddies

By Amy Cowen, online community manager at Science Buddies. Science Buddies, a non-profit organization providing free K-12 STEM education resources, strives to build STEM literacy by delivering fun and engaging STEM activities to all students, whether it is in school, out of school, or at home....

BY: Guest Blogger      03/08/19

National Leap Into Science Week celebrates science & literacy learning in OST

The week of February 25 to March 3, 2019 is National Leap Into Science Week, the annual celebration of Leap Into Science, a national program with a mission to integrate open-ended science activities with children’s books and literacy efforts in libraries, museums, and out-of-school time...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/22/19

Participate in new research on STEAM in out-of-school time

Are you an out-of-school time educator? The Innovation Collaborative is conducting a national study that will help outline effective practices for sciences, technology, engineering, arts/humanities, and math (STEAM). The first national study of its kind, your participation could help determine what...

BY: Leah Silverberg      02/21/19

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming this January. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new research...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/24/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Education Innovation and Research grant provides opportunities for student apprenticeships

Eighteen new grantees were recently awarded Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants from the Department of Education. Developed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), EIR grants, which are inspired by the Investing in...

BY: Leah Silverberg      11/05/18

Renewed commitments to computer science at CSforAll Summit

On October 8, computer science (CS) educators and advocates descended on Detroit, Michigan for the 2018 CSforALL Summit. As part of this year’s summit, a special one-day working session, entitled Mo’ Time for CS Education, was held to bring practitioners, advocates, researchers, and...

BY: Chris Neitzey      10/29/18

New California “Kids Code” program to expand computer coding in afterschool

The Kids Code Pilot Program, which passed the California Legislature earlier this year and was championed by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, will provide $15 million in funding over three years to expand access to coding in afterschool programs across the state. The pilot program will allow existing...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/21/18

Start a Girls Who Code Club this fall!

Girls Who Code wants to work with you to provide your students with high-quality computer science resources! A national nonprofit organization, Girls Who Code is working to close the gender gap in computer science professions. The Girls Who Code afterschool curriculum is FREE to participating...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/06/18

What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

On February 12, the White House released its FY19 budget request. As expected, it reiterated much of the FY18 request, including deep cuts to and elimination of many discretionary programs. This year’s request was made more confusing due to the congressional budget deal reached just days...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      02/22/18

Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

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,...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/22/18

Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

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: “Connecting to computer science: A...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      12/15/17

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

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...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

Promoting access to computer science for girls

Earlier this month, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted the work of Code.org in expanding access to computer science opportunities for girls. The 60 Minutes piece drew public attention to the growing number of tech-related jobs across the country and the lack of women currently filling these...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/26/19

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Start a Girls Who Code Club this fall!

Girls Who Code wants to work with you to provide your students with high-quality computer science resources! A national nonprofit organization, Girls Who Code is working to close the gender gap in computer science professions. The Girls Who Code afterschool curriculum is FREE to participating...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/06/18

Guest blog: Inspiring New Mexico’s Youth STEMbassador program

By Julie Hernandez, STEM Afterschool Expansion VISTA for New Mexico. Science introduced me to a world of possibilities. I see scientists as modern day explorers, discovering worlds we’ve never seen and providing answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask. Science also...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/09/18

Guest blog: 33 boys. Zero girls.

By Jothi Ramaswamy, founder and CEO of ThinkSTEAM. “33 boys. Zero girls.” Four words. That’s all it took to transform my 13 year old perspective on society. I was talking with my brother over dinner when he iterated this gender ratio in his undergraduate C++ coding...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/29/18

Storytelling & mentoring can bring STEM's Hidden Figures into the spotlight

By Allyson Kennedy, a scientist, educator, and STEM advocate. Allyson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 and is now working to broaden participation in computing education through an AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellowship at the National...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/26/18

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

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...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

New commitments to equity, engagement at the CSforALL Summit

“Power is the ability to write and author the American story… and that requires ambition to be nurtured; it requires the administration of an infrastructure that can do this.” These words come from Dr. Kamau Bobb of Georgia Institute of Technology, explaining how institutes of...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      10/20/17