As you've probably heard by now, we've partnered with the Noyce Foundation to offer the Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. We are inviting applications for two $10,000 awards to recognize afterschool STEM programs that are showing great youth outcomes. We have started to receive applications and I hope that we get a lot more! It's a terrific opportunity to showcase your great program, help us highlight why afterschool must be an integral partner in STEM education, AND win $10,000 for your program.
Eligible programs must have been running for two years and working with students in grades 4 through 8. We invite applications in two categories:
- Afterschool programs that are a strong partnership between an afterschool provider and a STEM-rich institution(s), which include science centers or museums, nature centers, universities, government labs, STEM-related businesses, or other similar institutions. Programs may focus on any STEM topic.
- Afterschool programs that have a strong computing and/or engineering component.
We recently held a webinar to answer questions and go over the review criteria we will utilize for the STEM Impact Awards. You may also be interested in taking a look at the slides from our prior webinar on “Defining youth outcomes for afterschool STEM programs” available on the same "Archived Webinars" page.
Additional details are available on the award website, along with a link to the online application. Applications are due by May 15, so don’t delay! We encourage all applicants to review the questions and generate their responses prior to beginning the online application. Once you begin filling out the online application, you must finish. Answers cannot be saved or returned to at a later date.
We look forward to receiving your applications and learning more about the terrific programs engaging our young people in innovative STEM learning experiences all across the country.
The president recently released his budget request for FY2014 and we wrote about the implications for afterschool in a recent blog post. The budget proposes a sweeping (and unprecedented) reorganization of federal STEM education investments—it consolidates or restructures 114 programs out of the existing 226 federal STEM programs. In the budget proposal, 78 programs are terminated and the funds from these programs ($176 million dollars) are redirected to other agencies, 49 programs are consolidated within agencies and 13 new programs have been proposed.
The $176 million from the eliminated programs would be split as follows:
- $100.3 million to the Department of Education for K-12 education programs
- $51.1 million to the National Science Foundation for undergraduate education and fellowship programs
- $25 million to the Smithsonian Institution for a new STEM engagement initiative
There are several places to get the full details of the president’s budget request for STEM education—the White House R&D budget site and the American Institute of Physics FYI analysis are good places to start.
This piece was originally published as a commentary in Education Week on March 6, 2013 (Vol. 32, Issue 23, Page 26). Read the original article here.
- Developing interest in STEM and related learning activities;
- Developing capacities to productively engage in STEM learning activities; and
- Valuing the goals of STEM and STEM learning activities.
We have just released our long-awaited report on STEM outcomes for youth in afterschool programs!
This report concludes a 10-month study, “Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool,” that asked experienced afterschool providers and supporters to identify appropriate and feasible outcomes. Study participants identified a consensus on outcomes, indicators and sub-indicators that provide a framework to map how afterschool programs contribute to larger STEM education goals.
There was a clear consensus that afterschool programs help youth to:
- Develop an interest in STEM and STEM learning activities
- Develop capacities to productively engage in STEM learning activities
- Come to value the goals of STEM and STEM learning activities
There was also shared agreement that afterschool STEM programs are best positioned to impact indicators of learning in the following rank order:
- Active participation in STEM learning opportunities
- Curiosity about STEM topics, concepts or practices
- Ability to productively engage in STEM processes of investigation
- Awareness of STEM professions
- Ability to exercise STEM relevant life and career skills
- Understanding the value of STEM in society
Afterschool programs are a natural partner in offering hands-on STEM learning opportunities—and afterschool providers around the country have enthusiastically embraced this idea! We know how crucial STEM skills are for workforce development and the types of creative, innovative learning that takes place within the afterschool environment. STEM afterschool programs have proven results and offer great possibility to play a role in broader STEM education reform.
However, getting that message to influential people in our communities can still be challenging. Effective local and state policies, as well as investments from other stakeholders are crucial to ensuring that quality STEM afterschool programs are available to the children in your community. There are many people and groups that can help you achieve this goal, but all have different perspectives on STEM education and afterschool learning. We know that sorting through these audiences’ needs, figuring out what to ask for and how best to support your case can feel overwhelming.
The Afterschool Alliance has developed a new toolkit to help you become an advocate for STEM in afterschool. “Making the Case for STEM Afterschool” walks you through the steps you’ll need to take to develop a strong case you can effectively present to any audience. It helps you tailor your message, identify data and talking points that support your case, learn about existing policy recommendations that help craft your ask, and see who you can enlist as an ally in your advocacy efforts.
Let us know how you like the advocacy toolkit and check back for periodic updates. Also be sure to check the STEM Policy page to stay updated on developments in national legislation, initiatives and reports that effect STEM afterschool.
We know finding funding for afterschool STEM programs is a major concern of program providers—it comes up during most conference presentations and when I am out talking to programs. We heard you and we did something about it. Today we released a resource to help you identify, sort through and take advantage of the many funding opportunities available for afterschool STEM! “Know Your Funders: A Guide to STEM Funding for Afterschool” was written in partnership with The Finance Project and developed with generous support from the Noyce Foundation.
Children from the Godman Guild afterschool program in Columbus, OH learning about electricity during a demo at COSI.
Afterschool programs and science centers have a lot in common—we are both part of this large and loose field called “informal science education. ” We both struggle to get credit for our accomplishments in engaging children and youth in STEM topics and to be seen as partners in STEM education reform. So it makes a lot of sense for us to work more closely together. With that in mind, we partnered with the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) to have a strong afterschool presence at their recent annual conference in Columbus, OH.
This post was written by Owen Berliner, a curriculum writer for Engineering Adventures, a new out-of-school time (OST) engineering curriculum currently in development by the Museum of Science, Boston.
As the school year kicks into high gear, many afterschool educators are thinking about new types of activities for their programs. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities have never been more relevant for out-of-school time (OST) programs, such as afterschool programs, and the children they serve. The Obama administration has repeatedly called for a greater emphasis on STEM in the American educational system, and OST programs provide an amazing opportunity to reinforce the critical 21st century skills fostered through STEM activities. Engineering challenges in particular require children to work in teams, communicate and think critically in order to design successful solutions.
When considering STEM, many people focus exclusively on science and math. These are the big subjects that are typically taught in school, and often the engineering and technology components are either neglected or treated as sub-disciplines. Luckily, introducing engineering and technology to kids can be done in amazingly fun ways. In fact, kids’ reactions to STEM activities might be the most compelling reason to introduce them in your program! Kids are natural problem solvers, and engineering activities provide an opportunity for them to express their abilities while learning to apply critical thinking skills they may not even know they possess.
Preliminary research conducted on pilot tests of Engineering Adventures, a new, free-to-download engineering curriculum designed specifically for 3rd to 5th graders in OST settings, suggests that participation in the program leads to a greater understanding of the engineering design process and improved attitudes regarding possible future engineering careers.
Engineering Adventures units are intentionally structured to provide background knowledge constructed through hands-on activities. Once a child has learned about technology and the engineering design process, that knowledge is solidified through activities that explore the materials, science concepts and design principles of a particular challenge. Each unit culminates in an engineering showcase where children present their final designs to their peers. Early research has shown that this structure works well in a wide variety of OST settings, including afterschool clubs, summer camps and community groups.
Consider adding engineering challenges to your programming schedule this fall!