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:

  • (Offline) This year’s 4-H STEM Challenge is all about the mystery of space exploration! Designed by Clemson University, the 2021 4-H STEM Challenge Galactic Quest uses STEM topics ranging from physics and engineering, to computer science and space agriculture, to explore the history of humans in space, the technology and resources needed for missions, and the obstacles humans encounter in orbit! 4-H has teamed up with Lights On Afterschool to provide free Galactic Quest kits to five lucky programs. Keep an eye out for an email to learn how your program can qualify to win Galactic Quest kits!
  • (Offline or remote) 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. A suite of STEM resources, events, and activities for afterschool educators and programs to help students, especially girls and those under-represented in STEM careers, get excited about STEM is posted at Million Girls Moonshot Toolkit; scroll down to see a calendar of opportunities for October.
  • (Offline or remote) 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
  • (Offline) 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.
    • (Offline) 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.
  • (Remote) If you are operating virtually,
    • Invite a science center, science museum, zoo or aquarium to run an online activity
    • Invite a local scientist, engineer, coding expert or researcher to share their work and be interviewed by students via Zoom or other videoconference platform 
    • Run a remote 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