In the Spring of 2015, the Afterschool Alliance brought ASTC leaders and 20 youth program participants to the Afterschool for All Challenge. The Afterschool Alliance and ASTC worked together to arrange meetings with congressional staff and organized a training session on communications and advocacy for the youth to help prepare them for meetings with Members of Congress and to be vocal advocates for STEM afterschool programming at home.
ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance cohosted a webinar to showcase efforts from the Lights On Afterschool minigrant initiative and the Afterschool for All Challenge. Science centers shared their experiences, lessons learned, and tips for other science centers hoping to partner with afterschool programs. A total of 39 ASTC members attended the webinar.
The Afterschool Alliance gained a new partner in the CGI commitment, the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network, which is a national community of informal science institutions dedicated to public education of nanoscience and includes 368 science center partners. ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance joined the advisory group for their new initiative to help NISE Network science center partners better reach underserved audiences by facilitating collaborations with youth-serving programs in their communities. The Afterschool Alliance informed the design of a new afterschool nanoscience curriculum, staff training materials, partnership support resources, and a request-for-proposals to award 100 science centers
During this period, the Afterschool Alliance hosted three webinars known to be of high interest among both the afterschool and science center communities: tinkering and making educational programs, gender equity in STEM, and developing youth STEM interest and identity. ASTC and the Alliance promoted these webinars directly to the ASTC Community of Practice as well as through other informal science partners where science centers make up a large proportion of their memberships including ASTC, informalscience.org, and Relating Research to Practice. The three webinars were attended by a total of 286 participants.
In the Fall and Winter of 2015, through work with the NISE Network, 100 science centers and museums were awarded educational kits to facilitate nanoscale science in partnership with a youth-serving organization in their community. Programs will be implemented over the Spring and Summer of 2016, and are expected to reach approximately 5,000 students and 100 educators. Final reach numbers will be reported in October 2016.
Thanks to STEM Experience mini-grants from Bright House Networks, 935 children explored and experienced the real-world wonders of STEM during the 2015 Lights On Afterschool celebration. Seven afterschool programs across the country were awarded two thousand dollars each to partner with local science centers and museums to engage kids in fun, hands-on STEM learning, from robots and rockets to programming and polymers.
As part of the partnership with Bright House Networks, grants were also awarded to three science centers to fund partnerships with state afterschool networks. These grants offered afterschool staff the opportunity to receive professional development on STEM programming from the science centers. In total, 130 afterschool staff from 65 afterschool programs were trained. Participating science centers were: Michigan Science Center (Detroit, MI); Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa, FL); and the Indianapolis Zoo (Indianapolis, IN)
At ASTCs 2015 annual conference, ASTC co-presented with three of the 2014 Lights On Afterschool partnership winners to share their experiences forming partnerships with afterschool programs.