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Webinar recap: Back to afterschool with STEM

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Webinar recap: Back to afterschool with STEM

America After 3PM (AA3PM) data finds that the number of children with access to afterschool STEM learning has dropped as barriers to participating in afterschool programs have increased. This school year poses an opportunity for afterschool programs to implement STEM and re-engage students with learning. In our webinar on Thursday, September 16, speakers walked through tools and resources for programs to implement STEM learning into their OST programming. The Afterschool Alliance’s Leah Silverberg hosted the webinar along with speakers Rachael Van Schoik, California Academy of Sciences; Vanessa Moreno, Learn Fresh; Rebecca Wong, Learn Fresh; and Stephen M. White, Center of Science and Industry (COSI).

Leah highlighted the unique placement of afterschool programs in re-engaging students this school year and providing the hands-on learning activities that students lacked in the past year. Supported by key data from the AA3PM STEM report, opportunities for STEM learning are on the rise, and parents are seeing afterschool as important for STEM learning. However, Leah noted that barriers to accessing afterschool exist for low-income families and families of color.

They next highlighted an opportunity for afterschool programs to facilitate a cost-free, high-quality STEM and engineering curriculum called Engineer for the Week (EFTW). This opportunity is available to all afterschool program facilitators and educators, and provides a curriculum for youth to build a project that helps their community. Programs that sign up through the Afterschool Alliance may be eligible to receive a $1000 stipend upon submission of their project.

Rebecca and Vanessa continued the conversation by sharing how Learn Fresh and NBA Math Hoops are working together to meld STEM with sports. NBA Math Hoops leverages real basketball statistics and scores to engage youth in STEM learning, and they have seen student advancements in math fluency but also in teamwork and problem solving skills. With learning objectives including academic achievement, social and emotional growth, and increased engagement in STEM, their suite of board games and virtual games offer a fun approach to learning. Rebecca outlined what a Math Hoops curriculum can look like within an afterschool program, including simulated training camps, tournaments, and championship games.

Rachel then focused the conversation on how The California Academy of Sciences’ Science Action Club uses the afterschool space to increase science literacy through three curricula anchored in citizen science projects: bird scouts, bug safari, and cloud quest. All projects are accompanied with virtual learning sessions, kit of materials, virtual app for students, and guidebook. Available at different cost tiers, afterschool programs are able to purchase at a price that fits their operating budget. Rachel also listed different ways in which programs could make the most of their kits: programs have donated their material kits to a school-wide lending library and purchased multiple kits for their afterschool network to secure a bulk discount.

Stephen introduced Center of Science and Industry (COSI)’s Learning Lunchbox, a free 10 hour curriculum with multiple days of STEM activities for afterschool programs to implement over the course of a week or month. With the success of the Learning Lunchbox, Stephen announced new STEM themed boxes, including a space box in partnership with NASA, hyperloop box in partnership with Virgin Hyperloop, and a Her Royal Scientist box in partnership with Miss America, Camille Schrier. The three pillars of Learning Lunchbox are priorities, powerful content, and personalization, Stephen noted. Therefore, all kits are aligned with state learning standards and focus on education equity for all students and communities to benefit from a high-quality STEM curriculum.

The webinar concluded with a Q&A around curriculum and resource availability, language offerings, and tips for including parents and family members in STEM learning.

The full webinar is available on Youtube and all resources can be found on the webinar archive page.

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