The 21st century has brought with it an economy and a workplace that demands that young people are prepared for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Expanded learning programs have been proven to play a critical role in – and are natural venues for – creating interest in and motivation for future STEM learning and careers, including positive impacts on groups that are historically underrepresented in these fields.
NYSAN, in partnership with The After-School Corporation (TASC) recently launched an expansion of TASC’s Frontiers in Unbounded Science Exploration (FUSE) initiative across New York State, with the goal of increasing the availability of high-quality STEM experiences for students in afterschool and summer programs.
With generous support from the Noyce Foundation, NYS FUSE aims to institutionalize STEM learning into the expectations of afterschool providers, build providers’ confidence and capacity to provide STEM learning in their programs, connect interested stakeholders in this issue with each other, and advance policy changes to support these ideas.
- A “grass-roots” strategy provides frontline afterschool staff and supervisors with content knowledge and instructional skills to deliver high-quality informal science education to youth.
- A “grass-tops” strategy engages leaders and staff of schools and after-school programs, government officials, science organizations, policymakers and funders in awareness-raising activities in order to build enthusiasm and capacity for inquiry-based STEM learning afterschool.
- STEM Trainer’s Academy: NYSAN and TASC launched the STEM Trainers Academy – a train-the-trainer professional development strategy – in December 2011. The STEM Trainers Academy participants attended a series of curriculum-based workshops held in Albany, Rochester, and Long Island in order to draw stakeholders from a range of communities. For more information, or to contact a trainer in your community, please contact NYSAN.
- Expand Stakeholders’ Commitment: The NYS FUSE initiative is working to engage networks, leaders and practitioners in a communication, advocacy, and policy integration effort to create and sustain local demand for STEM learning statewide. We hope to:
o Include expanded learning opportunities in the larger conversation about STEM education and in statewide STEM initiatives, and
o Incorporate STEM-related policy recommendations into statewide education and expanded learning policy.
o Develop policy recommendations that pay particular attention to critical levers for student success, such as:
§ Summer learning opportunities
§ Middle to high school transitions
§ Increasing private and public investment in informal STEM learning
§ Coordinating funding and policy at local, regional, and/or state levels.
Ultimately, our vision is that all students have access to a range of science offerings that prepare them for post-secondary success and inspire long-lasting interest in the STEM disciplines
STEM Policy Brief: Science Beyond the Classroom: Critical to New York’s Future.