A project of the Afterschool Alliance

STEM Learning

STEM learning is on the rise! The latest America After 3PM special report, STEM Learning On The Rise, But Barriers and Inequities Exist, highlights that 73 percent of parents with children in afterschool programs report that their child has access to STEM learning in their program, but there are still barriers that affect the equity and availability of these programs to young people. Visit the America After 3PM STEM dashboard to view findings in your state! 

Afterschool programs are a natural space to provide engaging, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning. Broadcast the exciting activities you offer students, or introduce kids and parents to STEM through a remote or small group in-person activity.

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 and 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, zip code to get started. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation. https://sciencenearme.org/
  • This year’s 4-H STEM Challenge, Explorers of the Deep, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration—with robots! Ocean exploration helps scientists prepare for and adapt to changing ocean conditions. Many of these changes in ocean conditions are affecting the environment, such as melting glaciers, increasing ocean temperatures, declining fisheries and an increase in frequency and severity of storms. Since Earth is an ocean planet, these impacts affect humans and organisms all around the world, regardless of their proximity to the ocean.
  • 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. Let’s show the country how girls lead STEM in afterschool.
  • 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:
      • Space STEM - Exploring new frontiers beyond the classroom
      • Computer Science - It’s for everyone!
        • Just in time training for afterschool educators - Click2ComputerScience
        • Code at Home by Girls Who Code: Free  activities — some online, some offline, of varying levels of difficulty. Each activity features a woman in tech who pioneered innovative technology.
      • Engineering Mindset - Solving problems that matter
        • Curiosity Design Challenges: STEM activities for curious families and classrooms that promote creativity and problem-solving to find unique solutions.
  • 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 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 remote or 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