A project of the Afterschool Alliance

STEM Learning

Afterschool programs are a natural space to provide engaging, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning. Broadcast the exciting activities you offer students, or introduce kids and parents to STEM through a remote or small group in-person activity.

There are so many fun and exciting ways to celebrate STEM—here are a few ideas:

  • (Offline) The race to land humans on Mars is on! Participate in the 4-H STEM Challenge  and  explore sending a mission to Mars with the activity, Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches kids ages 8-14 STEM skills like mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture. The activity can be done in small groups in person or by families at home. Mars Base Camp Kits cost $14, but we have a limited supply to give away – look out for an email for our drawing for free Mars kits!
  • (Offline or remote) Share and discuss WonderopolisWonder of the Day about lighting the Empire State Building, which has lit up in honor of afterschool programs on Lights On Afterschool day for the past 13 years —and the other fascinating articles and projects
  • (Offline) Find a STEM activity that’s right for you:
    • MIZZEN for afterschool app – designed for afterschool educators, this free app created by the Mott Foundations allows you to search activities by topic, age group and duration. You can pick from STEM activities created specifically for afterschool programs from organizations such as NASA, Airway Science for Kids, and California Academy of Sciences.  Download the app on your device.  
    • (Offline) Extract DNA from a strawberry, which can be done with everyday household items and a strawberry
    • Activities involving tinkering or engineering can often be done with everyday household materials. We’ve pulled a few great low-to-no cost activities from the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio, but be sure to check out all of their activities here.
  • (Remote) If you are operating virtually,
    • Invite a science center, science museum, zoo or aquarium to run an online activity
    • Invite a local scientist, engineer, coding expert or researcher to share their work and be interviewed by students via Zoom or other videoconference platform 
    • Run a remote activity curated by STEM organizations such as NASA or National Geographic

And there are more ideas you can adapt from past Lights On events for remote or small group activities!

Find more ideas on our database
Throwing a Newsworthy STEM event

If you’re looking for ideas and suggestions for how to talk compellingly about your STEM programs and put together a STEM-themed Lights On Afterschool event, this webinar is for you! We all know that afterschool programs are a great way to get children and youth excited about STEM and should be integral partners in STEM education.

Yet all too frequently parents, community leaders, and policy makers don’t understand how big of an impact that afterschool programs can have on STEM education. Hosting a Lights On Afterschool event presents a unique opportunity to showcase the amazing work that you are doing in the STEM world to your community and to the stakeholders that can make a real difference for your program.

Watch the webinar