We’ve been busy with our advocacy work for afterschool STEM recently. For the first time, we organized a set of STEM-specific Hill visits during the Afterschool for All Challenge. A small group of colleagues from the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative, Coalition for Science AfterSchool, Education Development Center, Project Exploration, Project LIFTOFF as well as a couple of Einstein Fellows joined me and Ramya to meet with Members of Congress that are interested in STEM education but not as familiar with afterschool. This focus on STEM education allowed us to visit Congressional offices during the Challenge that wouldn’t otherwise hear our message about afterschool. As always, our goal continues to be to present afterschool as an excellent strategy and partner in STEM education. The momentum and support systems for STEM learning in afterschool are growing at an impressive rate and not many people in the mainstream of the STEM education community are aware of this.
After the Challenge,
we participated in the Coalition for National Science Funding
Exhibition and Reception on Capitol Hill on May 15. This event showcased examples of NSF-funded work and we were delighted to feature Charlie Hutchison, the Prinicipal Investigator of the NSF-funded National Partnerships for After School Science
program, as our exhibitor. Charlie also visited a few Hill staffers before the exhibition and talked with them about the work he is doing to train afterschool providers in nine states across the country. He estimates that the people he has trained have reached over 30,000 students with hands-on STEM programs. At the evening reception, he talked with more staffers as well as lots of NSF program directors. This was his first time engaging in advocacy and he was a natural at it and enjoyed it as well!
We also continue to work closely with the STEM Education Coalition
, of which we are members of the Governing Council. Advocacy and affecting federal policy are long, slow battles but we are making definite inroads. We need the afterschool and STEM education communities to continue engaging in this work with us so that we can get to a point where afterschool is embraced as an integral strategy for STEM education and is always included in legislation and initiatives to improve STEM education.