Monday, December 20, 2010

Podcasts from the National Conference on Science and Technology in Out of School Time Now Available!

Did you miss our conference in September? Were you unable to attend a particular session? Or do you want to share something you learned with your colleagues? Podcasts from many of the sessions, including the Keynote, plenary sessions, and breakout sessions are now available for FREE download on iTunes!

To access the podcasts, follow this link: 

The link will open iTunes. To download iTunes for free, go to 

Many thanks to our speakers, the staff of Swank AV at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, and the volunteers who assisted with recording!   

Monday, December 13, 2010

Program Evaluation and Teaching Effectiveness

The New York Times today published an article about a new study showing that student rankings of teacher effectiveness correlate with how much students learn in a school year, as measured by an increase in test scores. The study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is part of a larger effort by the Foundation to work with several districts to improve their teaching effectiveness.

Students filled out confidential surveys about their teachers, and researchers found that teachers who received positive reviews also tended to have students whose test scores improved over the school year. However, teachers who had their classes spend "a lot of time... practicing for the state test" consistently had lower rankings by students as well as lower test scores. This interesting finding has a lot of implications for education reform, and raises some questions about teaching effectiveness in out-of-school time as well.

Many afterschool STEM programs--including museum exhibits and programs, summer camps, and other opportunities for learning in out-of-school time--undergo evaluation to find out how well they are fulfilling their organization's mission or program's goals. This process, though often time-consuming, can be very important for keeping the program up-to-date with current educational standards and expectations as well as essential for proving success to current or potential funders. But how often does that evaluation process include input from students or participants? 

Since afterschool program effectiveness many not be measured against test scores, another metric must be used to gather data or feedback on the program's teaching effectiveness. Participant feedback--from students or adults--provides meaningful data on how well the program is doing, and what it could do to improve. Though this study specifically addressed in-school time teaching, hopefully it will provide afterschool programs with an impetus to have themselves evaluated and make an even greater case for out-of-school time education.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Computer Science Education Week: December 5th-11th, 2010

This week is Computer Science Education Week, a national initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of computer science education in the US and share activities and other resources for teaching computer science. It is also the birthday week of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist who wrote two programming languages and made numerous other contributions to the emerging field during the 1940s through the 1970s. 

Why is computer science important? According to CSEdWeek's website, the current number of students studying computer science will only fill 52 percent of the projected 1.4 million new computing jobs by 2018. Contributions in computer science shape other aspects of the economy, and are necessary to drive technological innovation. Studying computer science at any age helps kids build critical skills like creative and critical thinking, problem solving, and computer literacy in a digital age. And yet computer science programs are often overlooked and underfunded, leading to insufficient curricula, a lack of teacher training in computer science, and decreased gender and ethnic diversity in computer science programs and careers.

The CSEdWeek website has lots of resources to help advocates build a case for computer science education in and out of school time, including key facts, career guides, and activities for your classroom or program. They have also compiled a guide to events happening across the country promoting computer science. Plus, they're asking advocates to share their thoughts on Twitter (hashtag #CSEdWeek), Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Members of the Coalition for Science After School are working hard to promote computer science in out-of-school time in their communities. Here are just a few:
And there are lots of opportunities for participating in computer science-related programs in the Directory:
  • Girl TECH CORPS from TECH CORPS Ohio, a program that brings together girls interested in technology and mentors to learn age-appropriate technological skills
 If your program offers computer science activities, please share it in the Directory!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Science Books for Kids

While it's true that doing hands-on science activities is a great way to learn, every child needs a little down time to relax and let their busy minds process their experiences. Science books can be a great way for younger children to learn before bed, after working and playing hard at school, or on a rainy weekend. Plus, reading lets kids build their science, reading, and critical thinking skills all at the same time. Booklist just released their Top 10 Science and Technology books for 2010. The books cover a wide variety of science subjects--from archaeology, biology, engineering, ecology, and much more.

If you're an educator looking for books to use in your program, the National Science Teachers Association has a huge, annually-released compilation of the best science trade books for K-12 students stretching back to 1996. Again, the books cover a wide range of science subjects and are organized by subject or purpose (such as "Science as Inquiry" and "Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science"). 

Do you use science books in your afterschool program? What are some of your favorites?

Monday, November 22, 2010

How should schools tackle extended learning time?

Last week, in an article on the Washington Post's education blog, Class Struggle, columnist Jay Mathews attempted to reconcile two competing perspectives on extended learning time: advocating for afterschool programs vs. extending school hours. These two ideas are tied up in the wider debate on education reform in the United States and must compete for funding, staff, and public support. 

The whole article is definitely worth reading--especially the comments, where Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant jumps in and interacts with Jay, classroom teachers, parents, and advocates on both sides of the issue. 

Certainly, students spending more time learning during the day--whether in a classroom or outside of it--has been shown to improve learning overall using test scores (see the article and comments for more specifics). But longer classroom hours and the increased learning effectiveness also correlate with better teaching skills and strategies overall--and it would be hard to argue that simply increasing school hours leads to better teachers. Rather, it would seem that teachers who are good at what they do tend to work at schools with longer hours overall.

And I would venture a guess that many of us know of teachers from our own educational experience who put in the extra effort outside of school hours to ensure that their students were truly learning--through informal chats, extra tutoring time, or running an afterschool program. The key to effective learning seems to be making learning engaging, through creative curriculum and good teaching--something that happens in informal educational settings, which take place in out-of-school time. 

There's no doubt that extending learning time is essential to increasing learning effectiveness. Mounds of data--both international and domestic--help to support that case. And it's likely that education reform in the US will include increasing learning time during the school year and summer. It's up to advocates for out-of-school time to develop successful programs with meaningful learning outcomes and to influence the tone of the extended learning time debate.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How early should we start teaching STEM?

A recent study funded by the NSF found that how much time new parents spend talking about numbers affects how well their children learn basic math later in life. Researchers listened to recordings of caregivers interacting with their children during everyday tasks and noted the incidences of number-related talk; some parents mentioned as few as four number words during the study, while others mentioned number words over 250 times. Children whose parents mentioned number words more often were more likely to understand the "cardinal number principle," which says that "the size of a set of objects is determined by the last number reached when counting the set (e.g., a set of 10 items is larger than a set of seven items)."

Research into early childhood development in the past few decades has increasingly shown that very young children are constantly absorbing new information around them and that even the smallest interaction with adults or other children can be loaded with meaning. I can't help but wonder if the principle discovered in this study also applies to science--if parents who talk more about science affect their children's interest in science later in life. And most kids like to build structures with blocks and do puzzles--both of which use engineering concepts. Perhaps one way to increase interest in STEM subjects is to make them a part of the lives of young children.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Importance of Engineering

Engineering is not only the vowel that leads to the convenient (if controversial) acronym for STEM, it's also the discipline that glues the consonants together. At the same time, it's not something that students--and adults--typically engage with in their everyday life. This means that though professional engineers often have high-paying, interesting jobs, educators need to make an extra effort to expose students to opportunities in engineering.

The National Academy of Sciences recently published a study on the uncertainty of K-12 engineering standards in the United States. It is true that engineering has long been taught and learned exclusively or primarily in higher education, with introductory science and math classes in K-12 providing the basic skills necessary for professional engineers to complete their college degrees. But basic engineering skills can be necessary or useful for other professions that don't require advanced degrees--like work in manufacturing and construction. 

Thankfully, many afterschool programs include engineering as part of their activities. Programs from the Directory -- like the Elementary Engineering with Legos in Ohio, Focus on the Possibilities career exploration program in Wisconsin, the Come Fly With Me program in Michigan, and the FIRST Robotics teams across the country, just to name a few. Here's hoping that the out-of-school world is able to keep students creating, innovating, and engaged in engineering.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Don't forget to vote!

You've probably heard it a lot lately, but it bears repeating today: voting is the easiest way to make your opinions known and your voice heard. The Coalition is not a political organization, and we endorse no particular party or candidate. But we still believe that voting is an important way for individuals to influence national policy. No matter what your political views are, making them known by voting is one of the greatest rights enjoyed by citizens in the United States! 

For some last-minute information on the candidates and initiatives in your area, check out the Afterschool Alliance's Election Guide.  Google maps has a great polling place finder too! 
Happy Voting!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Have you learned How to SMILE?

There's a great new way to find fun science and math activities--and to share your own! has just launched as a place where educators in non-school settings--like zoos, museums, and afterschool programs--can communicate and share their STEM activities. As of this writing, there's already over 1000 different science and math activities posted! 

Here's how it works. Once users create an account, they can post guides to their favorite projects. This includes a description, time, materials cost, and subjects addressed, among other things. Other users can post comments on their experience with the activity and even try to tweak it. Activities can be added to user-generated lists to create collections of similar activities, and users can earn badges and points based on their participation.

"SMILE" stands for Science and Math Informal Learning Educators, but can be used as a resource in lots of settings by non-educators too. Many of the activities are simple enough to be done by parents and kids at home, or by non-scientists in community groups, like Girl Scout troop leaders. The interface is simple enough to use that kids could search for interesting activities on their own. It's free to join, and if you get started soon, you'll have a chance to win an iPad!

Howtosmile is a joint project of science educators and researchers from across the country, including the Lawrence Hall of Science, The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the Children's Museum of Houston, the Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). 

The Coalition for Science After School is proud to be a national partner!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Science Fairs: From the School Gym to the White House

When I think of traditional science fairs, the image that comes to mind is of rows of colorful trifold posters with maybe a baking soda and vinegar volcano or two. But science fairs in the 21st century are a lot more sophisticated than what took place in my elementary school gymnasium! With projects ranging from solar cars to cancer cures, student scientists from across the country are doing interesting projects of great value to the larger scientific community. And the students are benefiting too. As Elizabeth Marincola, the President of the Society for Science & the Public, put it last week, "Research has shown that science competitions benefit students by helping them gain self confidence; explore career opportunities; learn to take risks, and be rewarded for their ingenuity."

That idea got a boost today when President Obama hosted the White House Science Fair, which honored winning science fair entries from across the country. President Obama stressed the importance of science education in his administrative agenda: "If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too."

The projects that were honored truly are achievements that deserve national attention. Teams of high school students built a carbon-fiber solar car from scratch, developed a therapy using light energy to beat cancer, and invented a water purifier to ensure water quality in remote rural areas. Middle schoolers were represented too, including a team that designed a model city for earthquake refugees, eighth-graders who used nanotechnology to create a recyclable printer ink, and seventh graders that experimented with different materials to create a safer helmet for kids. You can see the full list of projects at the White House blog

As an afterschool science institution, science fairs encourage kids to work in teams to create their own ideas and projects. The social aspect of science fairs gives kids an important support group that can help social and emotional development too. The nature of science fairs also links kids up with mentors in their communities, which is important for encouraging a long-lasting interest in science. And giving recognition to science projects, as President Obama did, goes a long way in encouraging other kids to participate in science too. Let's hope that the White House Science Fair becomes a tradition!

Monday, October 11, 2010

What do we mean when we say "STEM"?

A recent article in the New York Times Science section has been bouncing around the science education blogosphere, and the topic just so happens to be something very close to our hearts. In "STEM Education Has Little to Do With Flowers", Natalie Angier touches on something that science education advocates struggle with constantly: the "branding" of STEM to students, parents, educators, legislators, and funders. Angier argues that the term is "opaque and confusing" to the public, which makes it harder to emphasize its importance to people outside of the field

So what's the problem with "STEM"? On the one hand, it could be seen as overly inclusive--despite stereotypes, not every student interested in science is also fascinated by math, and vice versa. But the term might a little exclusive too--does it leave out specialized but important disciplines like computer science, medicine and health science, media studies, or archaeology? Some advocates argue for the inclusion of art--to make STEM into STEAM--because no science or technology innovation has ever been done without a little creativity. 

And while STEM might be a handy acronym for those of us who work in the field, it might mystify those who need access to science and technology education the most. If you're not involved in the science education field in some way, you might not know what STEM means, and it's rarely explained in the media. The Coalition advocates for afterschool science for all, and it's hard to convince someone that STEM is important when you're not even speaking the same language as them! 

We don't necessarily need to scrap the term altogether, though. As Dr. Elizabeth Stage--Coalition Steering Committee member and Director of the Lawrence Hall of Science--it's a "false distinction" to "silo out" the different disciplines, because they use the same type of analytical and critical thinking. But as the field of science education advocacy grows and changes, there's no doubt that criticisms such as Angier's will continue to be published.

What are your thoughts on the term "STEM"? Let us know in the discussion page at the Coalition for Science After School LinkedIn page.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exciting and Unique Job Opening at the Coalition for Science After School and Lawrence Hall of Science!

Do you or does someone you know have a passion for promoting science in after school? Are you looking to be a leader in this emerging and exciting field? The Coalition for Science After School and the Lawrence Hall of Science is looking for a Director to lead the new Center for Quality Science Learning Afterschool and the Coalition. Read on, and pass along the news to your colleagues and associates. We look forward to hearing from you!

Job Number: 10-104
Job Type: Coordinator of Public Programs VI-VIII
Job Area:  Lawrence Hall of Science
Job Notes:
Title: Director, Center for Quality Science Learning Afterschool (Coordinator of Public Programs VI-VIII)
Location: Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley
Salary Range: $76,800-98,900 annually

Duties and Responsibilities:
The Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) is seeking a visionary leader to envision, plan and build a new Center for Quality Science Learning Afterschool (QSLA). As Center Director he or she will be responsible for creating an agenda that enables quality educational programs and innovative practices to flourish in afterschool. This senior academic appointee will play a visible role nationally in the field by serving as a spokesperson, advocate, and coalition builder to raise the profile of the Hall. The director will supervise staff as well as serve on the nine member LHS leadership team to promote institution-wide collaboration and excellence. The QSLA Center Director will be responsible for facilitating mutually beneficial relationships with outside agencies as well as build collaboration within the Hall's current efforts in afterschool science education. The QSLA Center Director will serve as author and project director on grants and fundraising documents to raise support for the work of the center. Through leveraging the Hall's existing excellence in research and evaluation, materials development, direct service, and technology innovation, the QSLA Director will be expected to build a strong and coherent program that make a measurable impact on the diversity of afterschool audiences.
The QSLA Center Director will concurrently serve (30-40%) as the Executive Director of the Coalition for Science After School (CSAS), a national network of over 1500 organizations, experts and committed individuals, dedicated to advancing after school science education. CSAS plays a national role in collecting and disseminating knowledge about best and promising practices in the field, serves as platform for advocacy, and a convener of communities of practice.  The Executive Director, working together and guided by the CSAS Steering Committee, will enact the bold vision to make science a routine part of after school, such that CSAS will no longer need to exist in ten years.

" Masters in science or mathematics, science or mathematics education, youth development, or the equivalent required; Ph. D. desirable.
" A minimum of ten years of experience in science and/or mathematics education, in formal, informal, and/or afterschool settings; working with policymakers, diverse learners and stakeholders.
" Experience designing, implementing, leading, and managing complex projects; including building teams and raising funds
" Knowledge of science education and afterschool trends and policies required; knowledge of UC system policies and practices desirable.
" Excellent written and oral communications skills, computer skills, service-oriented with a strong customer service background required; bilingual and/or experienced with second language learning issues desirable.
" Self-starter with ability to work independently with minimal supervision, to set priorities, take initiative, exercise authority, and execute tasks while maintaining confidentiality, exercising judgment.

QSLA Center Description:

CSAS Strategic Plan

Approximate Starting Date: February 1, 2011
Total Duration of Appointment: 1 year, renewable upon successful performance and the availability of funds.
Application Deadline: November 1, 2010

Please submit your CV and cover letter by e-mail to:
Sherry Hsi & Michael Radke, Selection Committee Co-Chairs


You can also view this posting at the UC Berkeley Academic Employment site.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Conference Update: Keynote Presentation, Funding Plenary, and our Breakout Sessions!

For those of you not in LA with us, we just wrapped up our first full day of the 2010 National Conference on Science and Technology in Out of School Time! We started off the morning with an excellent Keynote Presentation from Dr. Pedro Noguera, who spoke eloquently and engagingly about the need for innovative education in STEM. After two rounds of breakout sessions and lunch, we heard from major funders of STEM programs, who spoke about what they look for in potential fundees and funding trends in the field. There are exciting collaborations and partnerships being made all around!

The folks at Project Exploration have been blogging all day over at and tweeting at #scienceafterschool. Lots of big updates over there, so take a look!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not in LA? You can still follow the National Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time!

The 2010 National Conference on Science and Technology in Out of School Time starts today! We're kicking off the event with a pre-conference symposium focusing on Putting Youth at the Center of Pathways and Systems. Later tonight, an opening reception at the LA Zoo will feature Nick Dragotta of Howtoons, a comic series that incorporates STEM and inspires kids to build things. Most of our attendees will come to the conference tomorrow morning, when we'll hear from our Keynote Speaker Dr. Pedro Noguera.

If you're unable to make it to LA, we have a lot of ways for you to follow the conference from afar! On Twitter, you can follow the conference proceedings at the #scienceafterschool hashtag. Our co-host Project Exploration will be liveblogging many of the conference events and proceedings--check out their blog at We'll try and post here and on our Facebook page too!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Are you in the LA area? Attend our upcoming conference for free!

Volunteer with the Coalition for Science After School at the National Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time in Universal City, CA on September 24th!

The 2010 National Conference on Science and Technology in Out of School Time brings together stakeholders in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, including policymakers, researchers, funders, scientists, program directors, and advocates. Attendees will learn about the latest developments in STEM education policy, funding trends, and professional development.

Volunteers will be operating simple audio recording equipment and recording breakout sessions at the conference. As a thank you from the Coalition for Science After School, you will receive lunch, compensated parking, and free admission to the plenary sessions during the rest of the day.

Volunteers will need to come to a short training to learn how to operate the equipment. Training will take place on Friday, September 24th, at 8:00 a.m.

Sessions take place during the following time slots. You can volunteer for one session in each time slot:

Friday, September 24th, 10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Friday, September 24th, 12:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Preference will be given to volunteers who can attend multiple time slots.

Full details about the conference, our great speakers, and session descriptions are available at under “schedule”. For more information about the Coalition for Science After School, visit our website at

E-mail Kalie at the Coalition for Science After School at kaliesacco (@) with your availability, and you will receive a confirmation email with more details. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you and we hope to see you on Friday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Descriptions for conference sessions are now available!

We're getting really excited for the 2010 National Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time, coming up in just ten days! We're co-hosting the conference with Project Exploration and in partnership with Connect a Million Minds, and organizations from across the country will be coming to learn about and share their experiences in afterschool STEM education. Last week the session descriptions went LIVE on the conference website. We'll be having a total of 25 breakout sessions, plus two plenary sessions and a keynote address from Dr. Pedro Noguera, a leading urban sociologist interested in how social and economic conditions affect education.

We'll also have lots of opportunities for networking with funders, researchers, and providers, and a fun program showcase where you can learn more about programs from across the country. 

You can visit the official conference website here to learn more details about our speakers, presenters, and sessions. For now, I wanted to share a snapshot of the breakout sessions. Here are some of the titles and presenters:

How National Youth Organizations are Approaching STEM
Veronica Escobedo, Girls Inc.; Pam Garza, 4-H; Mary Grybeck, Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Sharon Junge, 4-H; Stephanie Lingwood, Girl Scouts of Western Washington; Kate Pickle, Girl Scouts of America

Pathways into Science – A Longitudinal Perspective
Robert Tai, University of Virginia

The Coalition for Science After School: Making High Quality Science as Integral to the
After School Experience as Snack and Basketball
Mike Radke, The Coalition for Science After School

Digital Youth Network: Using 21st Century Tools to Enhance Impact of Out-of-School Learning Experiences
Nichole Pinkard, DePaul University/Digital Youth Network

Supporting Exploration of Identity in Youth Programs
Diane Miller, St. Louis Science Center; Holly Hughes, Sam Noble Museum

Building Capacity for Science and Youth Development in OST: Findings from a Ten Year Alumni Study
Gabrielle Lyon, Project Exploration; Bernadette Chi, Lawrence Hall of Science

The Common Core Initiative and National Standards for STEM
Jason Zimba, Bennington College

What Research and Practice Say About the Impacts of Out of School Time STEM Experiences
Lynn Dierking, Oregon State University; Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute Science Museum

After School Staff Development – 4-H Tools of the Trade II…Inspiring Young Minds to be SET Ready for Life!
Sharon Junge and Sue Mangalallan, 4-H

Inquiry and Curriculum Through an Equity Lens
Maryann Stimmer, Educational Equity Center at AED; Heather Gibbons, St. Louis Science Center

There are still a few spots available if you would like to register online, or if you're in the LA area, you can register at the door. The conference will take place from September 23rd-24th, with a special pre-conference symposium on the 22nd, in Universal City (LA), CA. I'll see you there!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Beat the Back-to-School Blues with Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

With Labor Day weekend just a few hours away as of this writing, the summer is officially coming to a close. Many museums and science centers experience low visitation during these early school months, since teachers rarely plan field trips so early in the school year.

During the summer, museums and science centers provide lots of services (not to mention air-conditioning) to vacationing families, summer campers, and parents and students who want to beat the summer "brain drain." But in September, the focus switches to classroom and homework time. 

Low visitation means less crowds and more time spent with exciting exhibits, making September a great time to visit museums after school and on the weekends. Maybe that's why Smithsonian Magazine is having Museum Day on September 25th! Print out the admission ticket on their website and visit a participating museum near you (we love science museums, of course, but there are lots of art museums, natural history museums, and children's museums participating).

Check it out at the Smithsonian Magazine website !

Monday, August 23, 2010

Member Survey for the Coalition for Science After School

The Coalition is always looking for new and better ways to serve our members. If you're a member of the Coalition, please take a moment to fill out our member survey so that we can better present the case for STEM education in out of school time. You can take the survey online here. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete.

If you're not a member, it only takes a minute to sign up. Membership is free, and is a great opportunity for networking, learning about new afterschool science resources, and making your voice heard in the national conversation on STEM in Afterschool! Join at the Coalition's website.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Afterschool Programs for Underserved Youth

Equity and access issues are big concerns for afterschool programs across the country. In a recent survey by Bayer, a "lack of quality science and math education programs in poorer school districts" was cited as the top reason for minority underrepresentation in STEM careers. This puts extra impetus on afterschool providers to make space in their programs for underrepresented youth.

Afterschool stakeholders from across the country will be coming together to share their ideas about equity and access issues at our upcoming Conference in September. In the meantime, check out these great programs from our Directory:

Flandreau Indian School Success Academy at South Dakota State University: this program helps students pursue careers, including in STEM, identified by tribal leaders as being of particular need in their communities.

Junior Paleontologists at Project Exploration: Our good friends (and conference co-hosts) at Project Exploration take minority students on real paleontological excavations in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Camp GOAL at the Intrepid Museum Foundation Inc.: a four-week summer science program for underrepresented middle-school girls in NYC.

Multiethnic Introduction to Engineering (MITE) at Purdue University: qualified students interested about engineering learn about how to pursue an engineering at the Purdue campus.

Latinos in Forestry at Oregon State University: a pre-college recruitment program for students interested in natural resource management.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Funding Your Afterschool Science Program Part II: Monitoring and Applying for Grants

This is a special two part blog post on finding grants for your afterschool science program. Check out last week's post for where to find grants for afterschool programs. 

One of the most challenging aspects of managing an afterschool program is securing adequate funding. Even if the program charges a participation or admission fee, it is rarely enough to cover the total costs of operation. Keeping track of grant opportunities ensures that programs will have adequate time to prepare successful grant applications.

Some organizations use professional grant management software that not only alerts users to upcoming grant deadlines, but also more easily keeps track of how grants are being spent. One of the best known is Grantstracker. Another excellent resource is The Foundation Center Online, which allows users to search for ideal funders and easily keep track of upcoming deadlines.

Free resources are also available. The US Government's Grants page is a massive, if somewhat bulky, grants resource for a huge variety of education programs. GrantsAlert is less extensive but easier to use. 

An easy way to keep track of grant application deadlines is to create a Google account devoted to grants only. Google Alerts allows you to get daily or weekly updates on keywords relevant to your interests (such as "robotics afterschool program grants" , "Education grants Omaha NE" , or "STEM grants K-5"). A Google Calendar allows you to categorize the grants that you are interested in, and will send you alerts for when grant applications are coming up. Even if you find out about a grant deadline that has passed, keep track of its due date so you can check back next year.

Our upcoming Conference will have many more opportunities for learning about funding trends. Sign up today!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Funding Your Afterschool Science Program Part I: Finding Grants for Afterschool Science

This is a special two part blog post on finding grants for your afterschool science program. Check back next week for a post on how to keep track of grant opportunities.

Though the economy is still recovering from the recent recession, funding is still available for education programs across the country. Government resources as well as corporate and private foundations continue to provide grants for a variety of educational purposes, including for administering and attending afterschool science programs.

The Coalition's website lists funders who have demonstrated a commitment to funding science, technology, engineering, and math education in informal and afterschool settings. The list includes government-funded entities like the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Private foundations listed include the Motorola Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and Time Warner Cable (through their Connect a Million Minds Initiative).

Professional associations often offer grants or prizes to their members or participants. The NSTA (National Science Teacher's Association) and AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) offer prizes for accomplishments in the field of informal education (as well as other areas).

If you're looking for even more granting opportunities—such as small grants to fund just portions of your program—consider joining or using one of the many grant databases that exist online. Here are some that are easy to use and extensive:

The Foundation Center lists thousands of grants that can be used for special projects, general operating funds, professional development, and more.

Grantwrangler is a searchable grant database devoted to education, and even has a specific STEM database.

The National Education Association (NEA) has a very extensive grant database. While many of the grants are for classrooms, there are many that can be applied to professional educational development as well as out-of-class time programs.

And don't forget that “funding trends” is one of the strands in our upcoming conference. Attending the conference will let you know about the latest developments in out-of-school time funding.

Monday, July 26, 2010

America COMPETES Act under debate in Senate Committees

A major piece of science education legislation is winding its way through the halls of Congress. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act funds various National Science Foundation (NSF) programs for the next three years.

The House version of the bill (H.R. 5116) sponsored by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) passed after three separate votes in May. Now, the bill is under review and modification in the Senate. The Senate version (S.3605) sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) differs slightly in the scope of departments funded and, in an effort to win bipartisan support in a highly partisan Congress, limits the funding to just three years and contains few new initiatives. In fact, the only new initiative was proposed by the ranking Republican in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) wants to designate $10 million to help universities train science and engineering majors to be K-12 teachers, a model that has been successfully employed in her home state by the UTeach program at the University of Texas, Austin.

In the Senate, the bill must win support in three separate committees: Commerce, Science, and Transportation (headed by Sen. Rockefeller); Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (led by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA); and Energy and Natural Resources (chaired by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM).

Last week, the bill was approved by a key science panel yesterday in Sen. Rockefeller's committee, bringing it one step closer to committee approval and finally to the Senate floor for debate and voting. While changes to the bill could happen at any time during the debate process, you can still voice your support for the proposal by contacting the Senators on each committee. To see if your Senator is a member of any of the above committees, click on the links below:

You can read the text of the House of Representatives version of the bill (H.R. 5116) by visiting the bill summary and status page.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Share your ideas for new science education standards with the Board on Science Education

The Board of Science Education (BOSE), part of the National Academies, has just completed a conceptual framework draft for new science education standards for K-12 students across the country. This framework will provide the basis for a project to be conducted by Achieve, an independent, bipartisan, and non-profit organization dedicated to raising school standards, improve school assessments, and increase accountability. According to the project's website, Achieve hopes to develop new K-12 educational science standards as well as influence the direction of science education across the nation. The project was conducted with the help of Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association.

The first draft of the conceptual framework is available online, and BOSE is offering the general public the chance to provide feedback with the aim of creating a final draft by winter of this year. You can read the full draft and provide your feedback by going here and clicking on the link at the top of the page.

Education standards often guide the development of new out-of-school programs, so your contribution to the report could help shape the way that afterschool science is taught in the future!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Careers in STEM

NASA recently launched Learning Technologies, a program designed to increase interest in space science through gaming. Learning Technologies just released their first game—Moonbase Alpha, in which a team of players works together to save a Lunar base that has been damaged by a meteor strike.

It may seem strange for a government organization to devote time to creating computer games for children. But Moonbase Alpha is more than just entertainment—it’s a part of a strategy by NASA to increase support for STEM education across the US.

Profiled on the website Ars Technica, the project manager for Learning Technologies, Daniel Laughlin, said that the project was developed as a direct response to the decline in STEM education in the US. Laughlin pointed out that “there are not enough students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to fill our national needs in those areas” and that “NASA literally cannot function without STEM graduates.” (Read the full article here .)

This got us thinking about what kinds of other opportunities there are for students to engage in STEM education and learn the practical skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce today. A quick search of the Directory brought up several programs designed to prepare students for careers in research, advocacy, and education in a variety of STEM fields. Below are some standouts:

  • Discover the Possibilities at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). This weeklong program exposes potential engineering students to all of the different opportunities in the field, giving them the tools to pursue their ideal engineering career.

  • Student Science Training Program (SSTP) at the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training. This prestigious research seminar teaches students the practical skills needed to conduct science research and to attain a career in science.

  • Pasadena Technology Camp at the CA Space Education and Workforce Institute. This weekend program provides computer literacy training to disadvantaged student populations, teaching them an essential skill needed in the workforce today.

  • Leadership Intern Field Training (LIFT) at Sustainable South Bronx. This internship gives high school students hands-on organizing experience in the growing field of environmental justice and gain advocacy skills that are applicable to many STEM fields

Do you know of a program that provides practical STEM career skills to high school students or young adults? Join the Coalition and add your opportunity to the Directory.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Showing Your Support

Not too long ago, we posted a story on our facebook/twitter pages about a group of middle-school youth who protested funding cuts to afterschool programs in New York City. After discovering that Mayor Michael Bloomburg had proposed cuts to afterschool programs in his preliminary budget, the youth took to the streets and marched on City Hall to advocate for themselves—an impressive and admirable reaction.

While not everyone can find time to hit the pavement in support of their favorite causes, there are other ways to show your support. In particular, sending a letter—even a form letter—to your congress -men and -women is an effective and relatively convenient way to have an impact.

In preparation for an important vote on afterschool funding, Afterschool Alliance recently put together an excellent example of an advocacy letter addressed to members of congress. If you would like to show your support for afterschool STEM, consider using/adapting the AA letter (attached below).

View the letter

Monday, June 07, 2010

Looking to Learn this Summer?

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn't mean that learning has to end. In fact, summer learning helps students maintain the essential skills that they gained during the school year. Research collected by the National Summer Learning Association at Johns Hopkins University found that young people experience learning losses when they do not participate in educational activities over the summer. Another study found that “parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do” (Duffett et al, 2004).

Summer presents a great opportunity for students to engage in informal learning through fun activities that take place outside of the classroom. By participating in fun and informal activities that combine science, art and sports, students keep their minds and bodies active and engaged. Many summer activities come in the form of camps and classes, which offer some structure and scheduling benefits for working parents, and allow students to participate in many kinds of activities during the summer.

Not a parent or guardian of a school-age child? You can still help encourage long-term learning by spreading the word about summer programs in your community. Consider volunteering your time or donating materials to an art or science camp.

A quick search of the National After School Science Directory found science-themed camps and summer classes all across the country for all ages and interests. Some highlights include:

Still looking for a summer program for your child? Here are some tips for making the most of your summer:

  • Look at informal learning spaces for unique summer programs. Museums, zoos, and aquariums often have summer camps and classes; teenagers and older students may be able to volunteer and work with younger students.

  • Check out your local university or community college. College students and professors can act as mentors to your children by inspiring them with real science work.

  • Don't be afraid to have your children experience something outside of their ordinary level of interest. Encourage them to try new things!

  • You can encourage long-term learning by engaging with your child before and after their summer camp experience. Ask them what they learned and to share with you any projects that they bring home. Some camp instructors let adults come to portions of camp, especially at the end of the day. You might even learn something too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Directory News!

With Categories, Your Opportunities Are Easier Than Ever to Find!

We've launched a new 'Category' feature that makes it easier for parents and professionals to locate your opportunities in the National After School Science Directory. Now, you can classify your opportunities as:

* Camps
* Competitions
* Exhibits
* Fairs and Festivals
* Overnights
* Professional Development
* Tours

Opportunities that are categorized will be better-optimized for search, and thus, more quickly found by users.

AND don't forget to login soon to add your summer opportunities before it's too late!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Afterschool Universe Announcement

Become a certified trainer for NASA's Afterschool Universe program and bring the universe down to Earth for your colleagues and their students.

Afterschool Universe is a 12-session out-of-school-time astronomy curriculum for middle-school students. It explores astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and takes participants on a journey through the universe beyond the solar system. The goal of the program is to introduce program leaders and students to astronomy and the universe we live in.

The program was developed in partnership with the DC Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp, and it is an approved resource for Great Science for Girls. General information is available at: An independent review of the program is available on the Science After School Consumers Guide:

Applications are currently being soliciting from trainers in out-of-school-time networks to attend a train-the-trainer workshop in December 2010. You will attend a special, all-expenses-paid three-day training workshop at NASA Goddard (in Greenbelt, MD) that will prepare you to run training workshops in your own communities.

In order to participate, your network must commit to recruiting at least 10 middle school sites, offering the training, and ensuring that the sites implement the program. The commitment also includes participation in the project evaluation – we assure you that this program has already been rigorously evaluated and this train-the-trainer effort will also be studied for effectiveness. There is more information about the required commitment in the application:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Because the Summer is Fast Approaching...

This week we are featuring the timely message heralded by the National Summer Learning Association: When the school doors close for the summer, too many children lack access to quality educational and developmental opportunities as well as basic needs like healthy meals and safe places to be with adult supervision.

NSLA strives to connect and equip out-of-school time providers, like schools and community organizations, to deliver high quality summer learning programs to all of America's youth. The NSLA mission is complementary to the mission of the Coalition, and it is especially important this time of year-- In just a few short weeks, schools will let out for summer, and children will have hundreds of hours of free time lavished upon them. This time lends an exceptional opportunity for kids to explore and discover freely in informal learning environments.

We are working to get the message out about the importance of summer learning opportunities and make them accessible to more of the nation's youth. As part of the Connect a Million Minds initiative, the Coalition maintains the National After School Science Directory to help kids and families identify high quality science learning out-of-school time.

Help us by updating your organization's listings:

Also, locate opportunities for afterschool (and summer) science in your area:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

2010 Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time

September 22-24, 2010 Los Angeles, California
Hosted by the Coalition for Science After School and Project Exploration
Presented Sponsor: Time Warner Cable

About the Conference:
This conference convenes a national cross-section of 400+ stakeholders involved in the growing movement for science and technology out-of-school. Sessions highlight key developments in the field – with a particular focus on access and equity issues affecting populations historically underrepresented in science - including: research-based best practices, professional development for program providers, program and curriculum development, evaluation, systemic approaches to aligning science education in – and out – of school time, and funding trends.

Who is the Conference for?
This conference targets national and local leaders involved with science education out-of-school: youth development and out-of-school program directors; executive directors and CEOs of informal science institutions; leaders of community-based organizations; representatives from K-12, community colleges and higher education; researchers and policymakers tracking regional and national trends in innovation, science and workforce development; foundation and corporate funders involved with youth development and science education reform.

Conference Agenda:
• Raise awareness about ways out-of-school time science and technology efforts positively impact students’ lives, enhance 21st-century skill-building, and expand the science and technology career workforce;
• Build capacity in the field by facilitating and strengthening the development of partnerships, networks and models that exemplify what works for engaging and retaining students to science;
• Outline an agenda for regional, state-wide and national efforts to support students’ involvement with science and technology.

For more information visit or contact: Gabrielle Lyon at or 773.834.7620.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Director, Center for Quality Science Learning Afterschool (Coordinator of Public Programs VI-VIII) Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California,

Director, Center for Quality Science Learning Afterschool (Coordinator of Public Programs VI-VIII) Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

Salary Range: $76,800-98,900 annually

Duties and Responsibilities:

The Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) is establishing a new center, the Center for Quality Science in Learning Afterschool (QSLA), to build on the work of existing LHS centers, programs, and partners and to assume leadership of the Coalition for Science After School (CSAS). The founding director will have the opportunity to establish the agenda for the LHS work in afterschool—research, development of materials and programs for afterschool settings, professional development for the afterschool instructional workforce, and creation of practical approaches to use technology to support of science in afterschool settings. He or she will also be the Director of CSAS, a network of national organizations, experts, and committed individuals who are working to bring together the fields of science education, afterschool education, and youth development so that the mutual benefits, of the afterschool setting for achieving science education goals and of science education for achieving the youth development goals, are recognized, understood, and implemented. As a center leader at LHS, the Director will serve on the leadership team, play a senior role in promoting the excellence of the institution, and report to the LHS Director.


• Masters in science or mathematics, science or mathematics education, youth development, or the equivalent required; Ph. D. desirable.

• A minimum of ten years of experience in science and/or mathematics education, in formal, informal, and/or afterschool settings; working with policymakers, diverse learners and stakeholders.

• Experience designing, implementing, leading, and managing complex projects; including building teams and raising funds;

• Knowledge of science education and afterschool trends and policies required; knowledge of UC system policies and practices desirable.

• Excellent written and oral communications skills, computer skills, service-oriented with a strong customer service background required; bilingual and/or experienced with second language learning issues desirable.

• Self-starter with ability to work independently with minimal supervision, to set priorities, take initiative, exercise authority, and execute tasks while maintaining confidentiality, exercising judgment.

Approximate Starting Date: September 1, 2010

Total Duration of Appointment: 1 year, renewable upon successful performance and the availability of funds.

Application Deadline: May 27, 2010

Please submit your CV and Cover Letter to Jami Rousseaux,, or by postal mail to her at Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5200


Monday, April 26, 2010

Engaging Kids in Science

This past Thursday, Coalition Steering Committee Chair Dennis Bartels was one of the guests featured on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny (NPR). Broadcasting from San Francisco's Exploratorium, where Dennis is the Executive Director, the program spotlighted innovative programs going on in the Bay Area, particularly those working to bring science to communities with limited resources and under represented demographics.

Congratulations, Dennis. The message about engaging kids in science is getting out!

Listen to the audio: