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Snacks by Melissa Ballard
FEB
13
2017

STEM
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Apply for a two-day summit on engaging Latinos in STEM

By Melissa Ballard

GENIAL, Generating Engagement and New Initiatives for All Latinos, is a new National Science Foundation project focusing on increasing Latino participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) within informal or out-of-school time environments. The goal is to bring together practitioners, community leaders, diversity-focused organizations, researchers, and media/marketing specialists from across the country to identify field-wide best practices, opportunities, emerging research questions, and gaps.

If you're passionate about engaging Latinos in out-of-school STEM, apply by Tuesday, February 28 to attend a two-day summit on June 5 and 6, 2017 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Calif. Participants will hear from dynamic keynote speakers and engage in conversations, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking to contribute knowledge and experience that will inform future research and practice in and advancement of the field.

Goals of the summit

  • Assess the current state of the field in providing effective informal STEM experiences for Latinos
  • Identify needs and gaps in informal STEM environments
  • Identify emerging research questions with an outlook toward the future
  • Contribute to a more informed informal STEM field

Who should apply?

GENIAL is seeking professionals with diverse perspectives of and experiences with engaging Latino communities in STEM learning. Leaders of community-based organizations, including afterschool and summer learning programs; cultural organization practitioners; researchers; policy-makers; and media, marketing, and technology professionals who:

  • Have at least two years’ experience and are currently employed in the United States in informal learning, nonprofit media or community-based organizations that serve Latino and/or other diverse and underserved communities
  • Are involved in and/or interested in applying best practices to engaging Latino audiences in informal learning environments
  • Are committed to sharing and implementing ideas from the GENIAL summit with colleagues and providing feedback

Cost

The cost for the two-day summit is $250. Selected applicants will receive a stipend ranging from partial to full coverage of travel expenses and the registration fee.

To apply

Submit this quick application by midnight PST on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Questions?

Email GENIAL@exploratorium.edu.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science
FEB
3
2017

FUNDING
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Win $5,000 with the Science Everywhere Innovation Challenge!

By Melissa Ballard

The Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation just announced the launch of Science Everywhere, an initiative to catalyze math and science learning beyond school walls, in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. The foundations are providing nearly half a million dollars to match donations from the public to support creative, hands-on project ideas submitted by educators to the DonorsChoose.org platform. At the end of the challenge, a panel of judges led by astronaut Leland Melvin will award five $5,000 prizes to the best ideas.

There are several steps and requirements, so make sure to carefully read the challenge guidelines. Here’s an overview:

1. Find a public school teacher to partner with.

  • Submissions must come from them, so this is a great opportunity to build relationships!
  • Read more about DonorsChoose.org’s eligibility requirements.

2. Propose an innovative science or math project that takes place outside of school hours.

3. Submit it to DonorsChoose.org ASAP.

  • There are specific steps in the submission process, be sure follow them!
  • Only funding requests for project materials are eligible, not staff time.
  • Total costs must be kept under $2,000.

4. Start fundraising!

  • Tell parents, partners, and community supporters all about your proposed project and get them to donate via the DonorsChoose.org platform.
  • If you reach half of your funding goal through donations from the public, then you’ll receive a one-to-one match from the Foundations. That means up to another $1,000!

5. Implement the project in your afterschool program.

6. Capture student impacts for a chance to win an additional $5,000.

  • Submit the required pre- and post-surveys by the end of this academic year.
  • Five winning projects will be announced September 5, 2017.

Apply soon—donations will be matched only until funding runs out! Again, be sure to read the full set of submission guidelines here.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Science
JAN
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Partnerships with libraries: Share your thoughts and win!

By Melissa Ballard

The Afterschool Alliance, along with the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), an initiative from the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute and the American Library Association, wants to know if and how afterschool providers are working with public libraries.

Our goals are to build bridges between the afterschool and library fields, so that both can share knowledge and resources to better serve our youth. Even if you’ve never worked with a public library before, take our survey—your thoughts and experiences will help inform our future work!

The survey should take 20 minutes or less to complete, and everyone who completes it will be entered to win one of our fabulous prizes!

Take the survey today! The survey will close on Wednesday, February 1, so don’t delay.

We are grateful to WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS for generously offering their afterschool curriculum as a prize! WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS are richly illustrated, word-less books that inspire kids of all ages to become published authors of their own storybooks, each receiving published, hardcover copies of their self-authored, original tales!

Students write collaboratively and independently in an exciting Project-Based Learning experience that ignites self-expression and inventive storytelling, while developing essential 21st Century skills. Upon completion of their books, students upload their stories onto the WRiTE BRAiN BOOK BUiLDER, and publish them!

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
DEC
7
2016

STEM
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New report: Opportunities and challenges in afterschool computer science

By Melissa Ballard

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we’re proud to release our new report, “Growing computer science education in afterschool: Opportunities and challenges.” A diverse group of stakeholders—including educators, business and industry, policy makers, and parents—agree that computer science education is vital for kids to become the creators and innovators for the next generation, making technology work for them and designing solutions for their communities.

In the report, we asked the afterschool field what they thought about computer science education. They responded with overwhelming interest: 59 percent of our survey respondents were either offering computing to their students at the time of the survey or had offered it in the past, with the majority saying they were highly likely to offer it again. Among the programs that had never offered computing education before (40 percent of respondents), 89 percent indicated a high or medium level of interest in trying it out.

Despite this strong interest, afterschool providers indicated some big challenges to offering computer science to their students, especially finding qualified educators to teach it, securing funding, and accessing necessary technology. To address these common challenges, as well as other issues mentioned in our focus groups, our report offers nine recommendations for K-12 computer science education stakeholders:

For afterschool leaders and practitioners:

  1. Document promising practices.
  2. Share existing resources more broadly.
  3. Support individual afterschool programs’ capacity for partnerships. 

For computer science education experts:

  1. Conduct targeted outreach to the afterschool field to educate them on computing.
  2. Increase professional development opportunities for out-of-school time educators.
  3. Develop engaging curricula designed for the afterschool environment. 

For industry partners and grantmakers:

  1. Engage and invest in meaningful partnerships with afterschool providers.
  2. Support training for employee volunteers.
  3. Provide and promote a diverse array of funding opportunities.

For more details on our recommendations, and how you can implement them, download the full report!

We hope that our findings will help K-12 computer science education stakeholders support the growth of quality, sustainable computing education within the afterschool field. Read the full report today, and be sure to forward it to your friends and colleagues.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science
NOV
30
2016

STEM
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New report: Documenting the impact of afterschool STEM

By Melissa Ballard

Afterschool programs support students’ success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a multitude of ways—by helping them become interested and engaged, develop tangible STEM skills, and begin to see themselves as potential contributors to the STEM enterprise. While afterschool programs across the country are working hard to measure the impact they’re having on youth, we know that program evaluation is no small task—requiring a professional evaluator, getting staff on board, and ensuring student and parent participation.

Our new report “The impact of afterschool STEM: Examples from the field” compiles some of the most telling studies on how afterschool STEM programs are engaging students. Fifteen afterschool programs—diverse in size, structure, and approach—shared their evaluation data with us, thereby adding to the growing evidence that afterschool programs are crucial partners in bolstering student success in STEM education.

Here's a sample of the impacts you can read about in the report:

  • After participation in Girlstart, a Texas afterschool program, girls perform better on the state science and math tests compared to non-participants. Further, participants demonstrate a continued interest in STEM—Girlstart girls enroll in advanced 6th and 7th grade science and math courses at significantly higher rates than non-participants and 89 percent want to return to Girlstart After School in the next school year.
  • Youth members of The Clubhouse Network (pictured) report that they have learned how to use more technology (91 percent), are more confident using technology (88 percent), and use technology more often (84 percent) as a result of their Clubhouse experience. Almost 90 percent of youth in the Clubhouse’s Start Making! initiative felt they were better at solving hard problems, and had more skills to design, make or create projects.
  • After participating in Explore the Bay, an environmental and marine science afterschool program, 81 percent of students said that they were really interested in learning about plants and animals and 89 percent of students surveyed reported that they wanted to take better care of their environment.

To read more impacts of afterschool STEM, read the full report.

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learn more about: Evaluations Science
NOV
21
2016

STEM
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What are you doing for Computer Science Education Week?

By Melissa Ballard

This December 5-11, join the Afterschool Alliance in celebrating the importance of computer science education for all kids for the 2016 Computer Science Education Week. Planning an Hour of Code with your students and participating in our tweet chat is a great way to start!

Plan an Hour of Code

Interested in getting your students started with computer science and coding? The Hour of Code is designed as an easy introduction to the topic for students and staff, as well as an opportunity to drum up support for computer science initiatives among community partners and stakeholders. Last year, almost 4,000 afterschool programs across the country hosted Hour of Code events—let’s keep growing our numbers!

Get involved in two simple steps:

  1. Get registered.
  2. Start planning with step-by-step instructions.

Just announced for 2016 Hour of Code is the addition of an all-new Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, a tutorial which lets students code their own Minecraft rules to create a totally unique Minecraft experience, and then share it with friends or play it on their phones!

Mark your calendar for our tweet chat

On Wednesday, December 7, at 2pm EDT, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association to dig into the challenges and opportunities around computer science for afterschool programs. We’ll have a focus on professional development needs for staff to successfully facilitate computer science and coding. Stay tuned for more info! In the meantime, follow @afterschool4all on Twitter and subscribe to our blog, the Afterschool Snack.

APR
7
2016

FUNDING
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Help your students join science competitions through a new grant opportunity!

By Melissa Ballard

Conducting authentic science research is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn the true nature of science and experience the thrill of discovery. By entering science research competitions, students gain additional skills such as learning how to present their work to peers, scientists, and the public. Unfortunately, applying to and participating in science competitions can be intimidating and challenging for many students, especially for those underrepresented in STEM fields.

To address this challenge, the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) developed the Society Advocates Grant, which provides a $3,000 stipend to an individual, such as an afterschool educator or community mentor, who will serve as an advocate for 3-5 underrepresented students, helping them transition from conducting a scientific research project to completing applications for scientific competitions. No prior experience is required for students—it can be their very first time completing a science experiment for competition!

Advocates support their students by informing them about potential competitions, prompting them on deadlines, and supporting them through the process of gathering and producing the required elements of an application. SSP will provide advocates with information on major science competitions, as well as regional and local fairs. SSP will also host a convening event to help grantees become more comfortable with the process (all expenses paid).

The grant is open to anyone who is interested in applying. Applications are due April 13th, 6 p.m. EST.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Science
DEC
18
2015

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: December 2015

By Melissa Ballard

In our final round-up of research briefs for 2015 from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project, we’ve got new research on developing students’ critical eye toward media, helping students address their fears about science, and using science infographics in the classroom. There are also two policy-related briefs from the Afterschool Alliance—one on the pathways STEM workers take to reach their current careers, and another on how state science standards address engineering.

Get more frequent updates by following the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook

Reading between the lines

Developing the ability to read and critically assess science-themed media reports is of great importance, given the media’s pervasive and powerful influence on people’s beliefs and behaviors. This Oliveras, Márquez, and Sanmartí study examines a technique designed to develop high school students’ critical reading abilities. Findings suggest a progression from blind belief toward the ability to draw conclusions based on scientific information.

KEYWORDS:  Argumentation, Scientific practice, Scientific reasoning

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learn more about: Science