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.