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!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

AAAS Session: Scientists in After School

A growing body of research suggests the importance of out-of-school time experiences in engaging, preparing, inspiring and creating lifelong interest in science. However, most scientists who engage in public education and outreach still largely focus on experiences within the context of the classroom. The Lawrence Hall of Science Director Elizabeth Stage and Coalition for Science After School Director Carol Tang, along with other leaders in informal science education, will present a double session to address this at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting this month in Boston, MA.

Sunday, February 17, 2013: 8:30AM-11:30AM

Hynes Convention Center, Room 311

Boston, MA

Tomorrow's session will highlight case studies of professional scientists and engineers partnering with after school organizations to provide high-quality activities and act as role models for youth. They will also present resources for scientists interested in working with youth in out-of-school time.

Get more information about the AAAS session.

Additional speakers and presenters:
Alan Friedman, Independent Consultant

Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief, Scientific American

Rebecca L. Smith, Co-Director, UCSF Science Health Education Partnership, University of California

Connie Chow, Executive Director, Science Club for Girls

Meghan Groome, Executive Director, Education and Public Programs, New York Academy of Sciences

Dennis Schatz, Program Director, National Science Foundation Division of Research in Learning in Formal and Informal Settings

Kathryn Scheckel, Project Coordinator, Arizona State University Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

All AAAS Annual Meeting sessions will be recorded and will be available to AAAS members through their archive in the Spring of 2013.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is Inquiry?

Yesterday I helped facilitate a local workshop about inquiry-based learning as part of the California After School Network's  The Power of Discovery: STEM2 initiative.  The Alameda County Office of Education and Gateways East Bay STEM Learning Network are the Regional Support Providers that are implementing The Power of Discovery at the regional and local levels.  Their vision is to create, empower and guide cross-sector partnerships among diverse stakeholders to build professional capacity of out-of-school time programs to offer high-quality STEM learning opportunities.

The focus of the workshop was inquiry based learning and the presentation was by Kourrney Andrada of Girls Inc. of Alameda County.  Her presentation was chock full of helpful links, which I'll recap below.  Some of her resources were videos from the Lawrence Hall of Science's' Afterschool KidzScience program.

Here is my favorite video from the list - it covers elements of questioning, guiding exploration and encouraging collaboration.  

This would be a great video to show after school science leaders as a starting off point for a conversation about facilitation techniques.  

Here are the links to resources from yesterday's training:

4-H's Science in Urban Communities

This link is from Developmental Studies Center, creators with Lawrence Hall of Science of KidzScience, Kidzmath, KidzLit, etc. 

"Sparking Curiosity" coachingsegment

The Y4Y links use the following definition from the Exploratorium:

Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world that leads to asking questions and making discoveries in the search for new understandings.

Inquiry, as it relates to science education, should mirror as closely as possible the enterprise of doing real science.

Encourage your students to discuss and question openly, to gain a better understanding of what they’re thinking. It’ll help you uncover misunderstandings you can challenge and identify places to introduce concepts and explanations for what they’re experiencing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

STEM Outcomes for Youth in Afterschool Programs

The Afterschool Alliance recently concluded a 10-month study, "Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool." In the study, a panel of expert afterschool providers and supporters were asked to identify appropriate and feasible outcomes for STEM education in afterschool settings.

Coalition Director Carol Tang and Steering Committee member Gabe Lyon of Project Exploration served on the advisory board for this report.

Watch Anita Krishnamurthi, director of STEM policy for the Afterschool Alliance discuss the report, joined by Ron Ottinger, executive director of the Noyce Foundation, and Mark Greenlaw, VP for sustainability and education affairs at Cognizant.

The big picture consensus among panel experts interviewed is that afterschool programs support young people to:

  • enjoy STEM learning
  • feel capable learning STEM
  • want to do more STEM learning

There are a number of more concrete indicators that afterschool professionals can look for to see if young people demonstrate progress towards those outcomes.  Panel experts ranked these in order of what they felt afterschool programs are best positioned to accomplish.  They reported that afterschool is best positioned to support young people's:

  1. Active participation in STEM learning opportunities
  2. Curiosity about STEM topics, concepts or practices
  3. Ability to productively engage in STEM processes of investigation
  4. Awareness of STEM professions
  5. Ability to exercise STEM-relevant life and career skills
  6. Understanding the value of STEM in society
One of the implications of the report is that afterschool is well positioned to support the 'doing' science and STEM.  Another implication of the study is that afterschool is well positioned to support realistic scenarios of how science is actually performed in the field, as afterschool is a learning environment suited for collaborative group work and other 21st century skills.

Panelists were also asked if they believed there are assessment tools to document the kinds of impacts they felt confident delivering.  While the funder group reported that yes, assessment tools are available, the practitioner group reported no, they don't have access to assessment tools.  In the video above, Anita offers a possible explanation of this result which is that practitioners may be aware of assessment tools for STEM in afterschool, but those tools may not be effective for one reason or another.

This report offers a great foundation for further conversation about outcomes of STEM learning in afterschool and we look forward to hearing what you think!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

ASTC Recognizes Coalition Director Carol Tang

This month the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) recognized Coalition Director Carol Tang for being chosen as a role model for California women and girls in STEM.  

This article originally appeared in Dimensions magazine, January/February 2013. Reposted with permission from the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated, www.astc.org.

Monday, January 07, 2013

50 Resources to Advance Women in STEM

The Coalition for Science After School is thrilled to top the National Girls Collaborative Project's 50 Resources to Advance Women in STEM list!  The NGCP distributed their list via Twitter throughout the last few days of 2012.  Here's a great opportunity to make sure you are following these organizations, which strive for gender equity in science learning and the STEM fields!

The Coalition would like to thank the NGCP for including us - we are in very good company on this terrific list!  

#1 Afterschool Alliance @afterschool4all 
#2 The Coalition for Science After School @sciafterschool 
#3 Girl Scouts @girlscouts 
#4 Blacks in Technology @blkintechnology 
#5 Black Girls Code @blackgirlscode 
#6 FabFems @Fabfems 
#7 Techbridge @Techbridgegirls 
#8 GirlTech 
#9 Girls RISEnet 
#10 Carnegie Mellon Project on Gender and Computer Science  
#11 National Society of Black Engineers @NSBE
#12 Harvard Fam Research Project @HFRP 
#13 !Excelencia! in Education @EdExcelencia 
#14 Culturally Situated Design Tools 
#15 CompuGirls 
#16 Coalition to Diversify Computing 
#17 The American Indian Science and Engineering Society @AISES 
#18 Alaska Native Knowledge Network 
#19 SciGirls @SciGirls
#20 Binary Girl 
#21 The Work4Women Project
#22 Women@NASA 
#23 National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science @IWITTS 
#24 Diversity/Careers Magazine @divcar
#25 Women in Cable & Telcommunications @WICT 
#26 Women in Aviation International @WomenInAviation 
#27 Women Chemists Throughout History
#28 Women Chemists Committee 
#29 New Scientist 
#30 Association for Women in Computing 
#31 Association for Women in Science @AWISNational 
#32 Association for Women in Mathematics
#33 Engineer Your Life
#34 Women in Engineering ProActive Network 
#35 Society of Women Engineers @SWETalk 
#36 Engineer Girl  
#37 Women in Engineering
#38 American Society of Mechanical Engineers @ASME 
#39 Women Tech World 
#40 Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology @anita_borg
#41 Women in Visual Arts/#Tech 
#42 Women in Technology International @WITI  
#43 Webgrrls @Webgrrls  
#44 TechDivas 
#45 National Center for Women and Information Technology @NCWIT 
#46 IGNITE: Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution  
#47 GirlGeeks 
#48 Cisco Learning Institute Gender Initiative
#49 Center for Women and Information Technology 
#50 ACM's Committee on Women in Computing  

Friday, January 04, 2013

#SciMentor Twitter Chat

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month?

To celebrate, the Coalition is hosting a Twitter chat:

Wednesday January 23 
12-1 Pacific Time

During this chat we will discuss the importance of mentors and role models in science education and STEM careers.  We're interested in hearing your tips, best practices, resources and stories, so please join us on the chat!

Here are the questions we will be posing on the chat:

Q1: Why are mentors and role models important for youth?

Q2: What is special about afterschool and summer mentoring opportunities?

Q3: How can mentors and role models support science education?

Q4: What resources can STEM mentors look to for support and inspiration?

Q5: What makes for high-quality mentoring experiences?

Q6: What can STEM professionals expect to give and get out of mentoring youth?

Q7: What topic related to science in after school would you like to discuss in our next chat?

To join the chat and see what others are saying:

1. Go to tweetchat.com and search for the hashtag #SciMentor

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 #SciMentor) but feel free to use 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 by sending us a message on Twitter.

Looking forward to seeing you on the chat!