Last month, in partnership with the Research + Practice Collaboratory, we hosted a webinar discussing the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and what it means for afterschool. The following speakers shared their expertise:
Bronwyn started the webinar off by introducing the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a report that articulates a new vision of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education needed for the 21st century. Its goal is to spell out exactly what all students need upon high school graduation in order to apply science to their daily life, critically consume science in the public sphere and go into the careers of their choice. Building on current research on how people best learn science, the Framework defines three key dimensions of STEM learning:
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of K-12 science standards, were developed directly from the Framework. NGSS has already been adopted or adapted by 17 states and District of Columbia, as well as in many more districts. It is likely that the Framework influences science education in the schools you serve, or will soon! Bronwyn was careful to point out that afterschool and in-school STEM education should not look the same, however they are both part of a larger learning ecology and among all partners there should be a shared common vision of what STEM education is.
Want to learn more about learning ecologies? Read this recent article Bronwyn wrote in the new journal Connected Science Learning.
Making sense of the STEM practices
Katherine has been focusing on the “STEM practices” in her research, studying their implementation in school and out-of-school time settings. As there are a total of eight STEM practices, she has found it can be overwhelming for educators to implement all of these in every science activity. To help, Katherine came up with a helpful way to for educators to make sense of them by splitting them into three groups:
The investigating practices are used most frequently both in school and in afterschool settings. Unfortunately, many STEM activities fail to include the sense- and idea-making practices. Katherine reminded us that the most effective STEM activities include all three types of practices whenever possible! Read more about her model for STEM practices on her website.
The Framework in practice
Techbridge, a girl-serving afterschool program based in San Francisco, aims to get girls excited about science and encourages them to think of themselves as scientists or engineers. Girls engage in hands-on open ended design projects spanning multiple weeks, or sometimes months. As Techbridge’s Director of Curriculum, Emily explained that they have chosen to align their programs and curriculum with the Framework because it allows them to better support school day learning, and incorporate youth choice and voice. Additionally, the engineering design process helps youth develop characteristics such as persistence. Emily’s top strategies for integrating the Framework’s model for STEM education into afterschool programs include using open-ended design projects, integrating long-term projects spanning weeks or months, and aligning content most frequently with the Engineering Design Disciplinary Core Ideas.
Professional development around the Framework
Finally, Tracy shared her work at the Vermont Afterschool Network in offering professional development (PD) to afterschool educators to align their STEM programs to the Framework. Their primary strategies include: providing content and curriculum, providing skills for implementing STEM, using STEM training experts, and offering leadership development. They offer diverse training formats, including: face-to-face, conference style, facilitated videos, staff meeting webinars and more.
Here are Tracy’s top tips for alignment:
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