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. Show off the exciting activities you offer students, or engage event attendees in a hands-on STEM activity. STEM afterschool is greatly valued by parents and provides key opportunities for youth to discover possible career paths and build future work skills. Visit America After 3PM's STEM dashboard to view what parents in your state say about STEM afterschool!

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

  • STEMfinity has the largest selection of hands-on enrichment from the most trusted STEM brands on the planet, whether you're a beginner or an expert. STEMfinity has a custom solution that will fit your budget and learning environment. STEMfinity’s goal is to increase STEM education across the country. We understand that educators need access to a variety of funding sources in order to get the latest, greatest hands-on STEM enrichment products in the hands of their students. View STEMfinity's Free STEM resources and 15 questions you should ask before implementing STEM activities.
  • Science Near Me is a free resource and directory to help quickly find opportunities to engage in STEM events, projects, programs, and experiences, both in person and online, including science projects, museum events, science festivals, out-of-school time programs, maker faires, public science policy forums, astronomy clubs, science cafes, and more. Type in your state, city, and zip code to get started. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation. 
  • Developed by 4-H Educators from Cornell University, University of Illinois, Utah State University, and West Virginia University, Power Protectors is a collection of three activities that teach kids how to address real-world issues and explore careers in energy. The STEM Challenge kit is perfect for youth ages 8-14.
  • Million Girls Moonshot, a transformative nationwide movement re-imagining who can be an engineer, a builder, an inventor, and a leader, is celebrating girls and women in STEM throughout the month of October for Lights On Afterschool with our #GirlsLeadSTEM social campaign. Show the country how girls lead STEM in afterschool by posting your work with the hashtag #GirlsLeadSTEM.
  • Looking for STEM resources, events, and activities for afterschool educators and programs to help students get excited about STEM -- check out the Million Girls Moonshot Toolkit.
    • A few of our favorite resources right now:
      • NASA's First Woman Camp Guide
      • Check out the Graphic Novel and Camp Guide. This set of hands-on activities accompanies NASA's "First Woman" graphic novel series, which tells the story of Callie Rodriguez, the first woman to explore the moon.
      • Surprisingly STEM video series
      • The Surprisingly STEM series features monthly episodes that highlight exciting and unexpected careers at NASA, from wind tunnel engineers to dive specialists.
      • Share and discuss Wonderopolis' Wonder 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
      • Find a STEM activity that’s right for you:
        • Mizzen by Mott app – designed with and for afterschool educators, this free app developed with support from 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 the California Academy of Sciences. Download the app on your device.
        • 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.
      • Team up with STEM resources in your community!
        • Partner with a science center, science museum, zoo, or aquarium to run an activity
        • Invite a local scientist, engineer, coding expert, or researcher to share their work and be interviewed by students, either live or by video
        • Run an 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 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