Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Coalition for Science After School Sunsets After a Decade of Success

The Coalition for Science After School (CSAS) would like to announce that after nearly a decade of helping to lead and organize the after school science movement, it will sunset its operations in 2014. This decision comes after a decade of agenda-setting and cross-sector partnership development.

Established in 2004, the Coalition for Science After School championed the mission to make science, technology, engineering and math integral components of afterschool and summer programming by bringing together the experience and commitment of thousands of individuals and organizations across the country.  By bridging the afterschool and youth development community with science-rich institutions such as museums, science centers, universities and corporations, the Coalition has worked to increase the quality and quantity of science engagement in afterschool and summer learning settings.

Over the last several years, the field has experienced tremendous growth of programming and attention to science-related out-of-school time opportunities on a national level, due to both the work of advocates like CSAS and other social and political factors. The decision to sunset reflects a consensus among CSAS Steering Committee members that given the robust and exciting status of the science OST field, CSAS leadership is no longer needed.
– Judy Nee, Chair of CSAS Steering Committee

The leadership of CSAS feel that the field has moved into a new phase, one that presents new challenges and opportunities. Though science in OST has grown in prevalence, much work remains to be done to ensure the high quality of opportunities and provide equitable access to youth nationwide. We're confident that this work has taken root, but are concerned about the need to ensure that communities with a high concentration of poverty are not left out of the integration of science and after-school. It is our belief that much of the work necessary to address these challenges will take place at the local level. We strongly believe that the organizations and leaders who have emerged over the past decade in the science OST community are fully capable of addressing these challenges and continuing to propel the field forward.

In addition to fulfilling current commitments to our partners and collaborators, a major component of CSAS work in the next year will be to identify and train new partners who will continue to advance the work that CSAS has historically undertaken, including maintaining and growing a national directory of science-related OST opportunities. This project has been and will continue to be generously supported by our partner, Time Warner Cable, and their Connect a Million Minds initiative.

 Bernadette Chi will lead CSAS through the sunset work in the year ahead. Bernadette brings extensive experience in science program development and evaluation of OST programs and science education. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley and has been recognized as a leader in the out-of-school science research community. Bernadette will take over for Carol Tang, who recently transitioned to a role as program officer at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

CONTACT: Bernadette Chi at coalitionsas@gmail.com

Friday, March 15, 2013

Midwest After School Academy

I just got back from the Midwest After School Academy in Kansas City, MO.  I had a great time meeting folks from all over the midwest, hearing the latest about equity in STEM after school, and learning about the importance of evaluation in after school settings.  

I presented a workshop on free resources for after school science providers.  Here's a roundup of the sources that the Coalition recommends:

Of course we wanted to highlight the benefits of becoming a member of the Coalition, which include receiving our monthly newsletter, being listed on our website, and potentially being featured in our blog.  If you're not already a member, here's where you can join today!

The Directory is a great way to promote your after school science program.  Because of our partnership with Time Warner Cable's Connect A Million Minds initiative, your program gains national exposure through their Connectory.  

This report from The After School Corporation (TASC) is one of the many reports the Coalition draws upon to help define what is quality in after school science programming.

If you're fired up about inquity in STEM education, the NGCP is a great place to find like-minded partners to help work towards closing the gender gap.  Almost every state has a collaborative and their vision is to bring together organizations committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM.

This organization was developed out of the NGCP in response to a national concern over the lack of women in STEM.  Through the NGCPs years of service and outreach we now understand the importance of using role models and mentors to increase girls' engagement in and understanding of STEM.  Use FabFems.org to search for female role models for your girl-serving program.

Techbridge is an Oakland, CA based organization dedicated to training STEM role models for girls and under represented students.  They have excellent resources available for free on their website and they also offer an annual summer institute for educators interested in addressing equity in their programs.

SciGirls is an animated series directed at young girls and tweenagers and helps to recast girls as capable, curious, science smart, and action oriented.  The show is based on lots of research about the career readiness of girls and women in STEM, and you can find it on the Educational Philosophy page of their website.

Design Squad Nation

Design Squad Nation is another PBS show, this one starring real life teenagers working on real life engineering problems. Their online activities and guides are designed as companion pieces to the show but they can be used independently to either support a unit that kids are interested in or to get them interested in new topics.  The website also has trainings to help adults get more familiar with leading engineering challenges.

Afterschool Alliance

The Alliance recently came out with a report called "Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM learning in Afterschool."  It was complied by talking to afterschool directors, service providers and stakeholders.  These are the outcomes that afterschool providers reported as being realistic in terms of what they want to see as a result of their STEM after school offerings.  We also recommend the Alliance's toolkit for advocating for STEM afterschool. 

You For Youth recently redesigned their website and it’s all geared towards providing PD and technical assistance to 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  Even if you’re not a 21st CCLC you can use all of the resources on their website for free.  They have an entire section devoted to STEM training including PowerPoint trainings to go, Training starters that help you develop your own trainings on different topics, and customizable tools for goal setting and program planning.

Informal Commons

The Informal Commons is a powerful search engine that allows ISE professionals to search for digital resources across ISE web sites. Access it through the Center for advancement of informal science education.

Assessment Tools in Informal Science

If you’re looking to take on some evaluation of your program you can find lots of free evaluation tools on the ATIS website. At MASA I heard a lot of excitement about involving students in evaluating the programs that serve them, and there are lots of evaluation tools on this site that will help you get at how much kids enjoy science, or how much they identify themselves as scientists or science-capable. 
Science After School Consumers Guide
The Coalition presents The Science After School Consumers Guide as an online collection of after school science programs that we have identified as exceptionally high quality.  It includes curricula, kits, guides and websites with content for after school science programs.  The guide is searchable by subject, grade and cost.


4-H has tons of great science curriculum, and it’s not just about cows and cooking.  If you search their directory you’ll find activities about ecology, wind power, native animals and habitats, chemistry and more.

Howtosmile.org is a warehouse for science activities that are perfect for after school settings.  Leading institutions like the Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science and the Science Museum of Minnesota got the ball rolling by entering science activities into the database and now there are thousands of searchable entries.  

The Lawrence Hall of Science helped develop the curriculum AfterSchool KidsScience and a bunch of great videos that are perfect to supplement professional development trainings. Sometimes a video is the only way to really get across what high quality instruction looks like in after school settings. 

Do you use these resources?  What do you think?  Any more free resources for after school science programs that you'd like to recommend?

Friday, March 01, 2013

Alan Friedman on Science and After School Programs

Recently, Coalition Director Carol Tang organized a double session at the AAAS conference in Boston about scientists in after school settings. Among the many notable speakers on the panel was Alan Friedman, an independent education consultant. Alan was CEO and Director of the New York Hall of Science from 1984 to 2006, and has been frequently recognized for his work in informal science education.  

Click here to watch Alan's presentation on the importance of after school science learning on the AAAS website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coalition Steering Committee Members Make Headlines!

The Coalition is lucky to have a terrific team of Steering Committee members from youth development organizations and science-rich institutions.  These tremendous leaders help the Coalition in our mission to be a bridge between the science and youth development communities.  This week two of our Steering Committee members made headlines for their work in after school science!  

Gabrielle Lyon, cofounder of Project Exploration of Chicago, was recently asked to join the Mayor's Technology Industry Diversity Council.  As co-chair of the council, Gabe will work with a team of leaders in Chicago's technology community to increase the percentage of minority employees in tech firms, increase the number of minority-owned and operated tech firms, and help create new ways for public school students to enter the field of technology.

In other news, Dennis Bartels, executive director of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, wrote a provocative article for Scientific American entitled, "Critical Thinking is Best Taught Outside the Classroom."  Bartels credits museums and other informal learning settings as being better suited to teach kids how to ask questions than elementary and secondary schools.

"Formal education, which is driven by test taking, is increasingly failing to require students to ask the kind of questions that lead to informed decisions," Bartels writes.  He goes on to describe research conducted at the Exploratorium that found that teaching museum-goers to ask "What if?" questions leads them to explore more deeply and engage in better inquiry.  Not only that, but participants even learned how to ask better questions as they continued to explore.  

We are thrilled that our Steering Committee members continue to lead the way in high quality science experiences in after school settings.  Stay tuned for more news from the Coalition coming soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The White House Focuses on STEM Education

We are thrilled that President Obama has continued to speak out about the importance of STEM education.  Recently, in his State of the Union address, the President issued a call to educators and employers to partner in order to better prepare students in STEM subjects.  He recognized science, technology, engineering and math as subjects that will help students be innovative leaders in the future.

The White House also recently honored leading scientists and innovators the National Medal of Science  and the National Medal of Technology Innovation.  We love this video of the event, which features the diverse group of leaders honored at the ceremony.

In their blog today, the White House also provided several resources for educators, parents, community members and employers.  We were thrilled to see our partner Connect a Million Minds highlighted as a resource for finding STEM activities across the country!

Make sure your after school science programs are listed in the Connect a Million Minds Connectory - log in to the Coalition's Directory and update your listings today!