Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Twitter Chat about STEM in Summer Learning

Are you ready for STEM this summer?

The Coalition for Science After School will host a Twitter chat Thursday May 17, 4 PM to 5 PM EDT about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in summer learning.  During this conversation, you will have the opportunity to share your experiences, learn why summer is the perfect time to explore STEM subjects, and hear from experts about resources and best practices.

The chat will feature representatives from NASA's Summer of Innovation (@NASAExplorerSch), The After School Corporation (@expand_school), the National Summer Learning Association (@summerlearning), Coalition Director Carol Tang (@caroltang1and other special guests from community organizations who are bringing STEM into summer learning experiences, including the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (@CBASS_National). 

To join the chat and see what others are saying:
  1. Go to tweetchat.com and search for the hashtag #SummerSTEM.
  2. You do not need a Twitter account to follow the chat, but you do need one to comment or ask questions. If you need to set up a twitter account, you can sign up at http://www.twitter.com. It’s free to join and only takes a minute.
  3. To join the discussion, sign into TweetChat using your Twitter account and enter your tweets in the box at the top of the page. TweetChat automatically includes the hashtag for you.
  4. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters (including the hashtag #SummerSTEM) but feel free to multiple tweets to pose a question or respond to a comment.
The Coalition's Twitter handle is @sciafterschool.  Feel free to submit questions in advance, either by sending us a message on Twitter or emailing them to sarah.elovich@berkeley.edu.  

Looking forward to seeing you on the chat!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Get mapped with MOST-Science!

This week's guest blog about MOST-Science is by Dr. Sandra Laursen of The University of Colorado Boulder.  Read on to discover how you can contribute to this important research and help advance the field of after school science! 

·     Fifth graders learn about wolf biology and predator-prey relationships, then help prepare meat to feed captive wolves at a wolf sanctuary….
·     Seventh-grade girls build and test rockets, then hold a contest to see how high their rockets will fly….
·     High school youth measure the water quality in a local creek and discover that illegal dumping is contaminating the water.  They report their find to local environmental authorities….

All who work with young people in out-of-school science and engineering experiences like these know that they can have a profound effect on the young people who participate.  But which experiences offer what benefits to youth? What program practices best support sustainable and effective programs?   Such questions drive a current research study called MOST-Science, underway by our team at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

Every year, thousands of young people attend summer camps, weekend workshops, and afterschool programs at community centers, libraries, and science centers, work as interns and volunteers at museums and laboratories, and participate in research projects at universities and laboratories.  The MOST-Science study is building a map of these science-focused programs, especially programs for youth in the middle and high school grades, and those where students work with each other on team projects or with the public.  We want to understand the breadth and depth of out-of-school science opportunities:

·     Where, when, and by whom are out-of-school science programs conducted?
·     What types of experiences do these programs offer to young people? 
Which experiences are especially effective in engaging youth and fostering their growth?
·     What kinds of students participate and why?
·     What do students gain from taking part?
For example, do students become interested in new science topics, or sustain their previous interests?  Are participants are more likely to go on to work in science and engineering? ...or to grow up to be responsible community members and science-literate citizens?

The answers to these questions will help to improve youth programs by sharing good ideas and practices.  Our research will also inform policy-makers and donors about the value of out-of-school science education...  perhaps even to create more opportunities for youth who do not have them now.

We are gathering data through documents, interviews, and the online MOST-Science Questionnaire.  We are now inviting leaders of out-of-school programs to complete the questionnaire and share with us some information about who participates in your programs; for how long and how often; and about the kinds of content, hands-on activities, career information, mentors and role models with which your participants interact.  

Everyone who completes a questionnaire will have a 1-in-15 chance to win a $50 gift certificate.  More importantly, however, study participants will alert our team to your organization and its programs, and help to inform funders, policy-makers, researchers and the public about the good work in this community and the needs that remain to be addressed.

To learn more, visit our web site or find MOSTscience on Facebook.

Sandra Laursen earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and maintains interests in both research and practice in science education. As co-director of Ethnography & Evaluation Research (E&ER), she leads research and evaluation studies focusing on education and career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Particular research interests include the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the sciences, professional socialization and career development of scientists, teacher professional development, and organizational change in higher education. She is also interested in inquiry-based teaching and learning, and the challenges of improving STEM education in and out of the classroom and across organizations.

Monday, May 07, 2012

6 Ways to Advocate for STEM After School!

I'm very excited to attend The Afterschool for All Challenge this week on Capitol Hill.  The Challenge is an opportunity for community leaders, advocates, educators and after school program experts to meet elected officials and discuss the important issues in after school.  Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, the Challenge features an entire day of in-depth advocacy training, the annual "Breakfast of Champions" honoring state and national Afterschool Champions, federal policy briefings, and workshops on trending topics including STEM and Digital Learning.

We are thrilled that the Challenge will recognize a Coalition Steering Committee Member at the Breakfast of Champions: Gabrielle Lyon, co-founder of Project Exploration, will be honored along with her co-founder palentologist Paul Sereno.

Even if you are thousands of miles away from Washington DC, you can still add your voice and advocate for after school!
- Sign the Afterschool Alliance's online petition
Send a personal leter to Congress to support Federal 21st CCLC Funding for Afterschool & Summer programs
Ask your member of Congress to join the Afterschool Caucus
- Keep up with all of the latest advocacy news through the Afterschool Alliance 
- Read the latest research about the importance of after school programs

Send the Coalition your story about impacting youth through quality after school education so that we may share it with elected officials on your behalf at the Afterschool for All Challenge

I am honored to advocate on behalf of the Coalition's 2,500+ members nationwide who are using their talents to bring STEM learning to children of all backgrounds!  Thank you for your membership and continued support of the Coalition!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The National Girls Collaborative Project

I'm writing to share some of my experiences from  2012 National Collaboration Conference hosted by the National Girls Collaborative Project last week.  I had the opportunity to meet dozens of representatives from girl serving STEM organizations and discuss how we can collaborate to move towards supporting more women and girls in STEM.

Among the organizations I learned about at the conference was the National Center for Women and Information Technology.  The NCWIT website is full of information and resources for increasing the participation of girls and women in computing and IT.  They also sponsored the Collaboration Conference reception and the Coalition co-hosted some fun, hands-on activities along with our friends at CAISE and Techbridge.  Check out the fun we had!

We adapted an activity from the NISE Network and made edible gummy capsules out of cranberry and grape juices, using food grade sodium alginate.  The result?  Science you can eat!


Here's Kalie from CAISE talking about a few activities available on HowToSmile.org.  This website is full of fun, high quality, hands-on activities!

And here are some of the fabulous folks of Techbridge, including Executive Director Linda Kekelis.  One of the highlights of the Collaboration Conference for me was attending Techbridge's workshop on career exploration in engineering.  When designing engineering activities for girls, I learned that it's important for them to see real life examples of women who are passionate about their jobs and doing interesting things with their science training.  We watched a video from PBS' Design Squad that was great for prompting discussion and setting context for engineering challenges.

I left NGCP feeling inspired and motivated to keep looking for opportunities to collaborate and work towards a brighter future through science in after school!