Integrating Science Into Afterschool: A Three-Dimensional Approach To Engaging Underserved Populations In Science
Four hundred fifty students in grades 3-5 and their families in Philadelphia, along with 60 staff, participate in science project-based learning (PBL) units in community-based afterschool programs.
Integrating Science into Afterschool, an ITEST Strategies project, builds upon prior NSF-funded work to develop a three-dimensional (3-D) strategy for engaging underserved youth, families, and afterschool facilitators in year-round science learning and exposure to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The project leverages community partnerships in urban Philadelphia, including The Franklin Institute, public sector entities and community organizations, to deliver the STEM education experience in the multiple access points of afterschool, home, and community. Integrating Science targets elementary aged students (grades 3-5) and their families, and aims to strategically network a diverse set of stakeholders to develop, implement, and study: 1) science project-based learning (PBL) units in community-based afterschool programs for elementary-age children, 2) thematically-linked home-based activities designed to engage family members in science explorations in the comfort of their home, and 3) family science events focused on building career linkages that will be hosted by both the community-based organizations hosting afterschool programs as well as the museum. Integrating Science into Afterschool will serve a total of 60 staff, 450 students in grades 3-5 and 450 families in urban Philadelphia. Additionally, Integrating Science will build the capacity of science educators in nontraditional learning environments, cultivate parent support for STEM, and provide a better understanding of the ways in which communities can increase awareness of and access to science learning and STEM careers. Integrating Science has the potential to sustain and expand this proof-of-concept model through existing partners regionally, statewide, and nationwide. Long-term outcomes include using this 3-D model to address important questions within the field including how afterschool programs impact children's sense of identity in science, how parents can be encouraged and supported to become advocates of science and of science career pathways for their children, and identifying ways in which underrepresented groups come to understand, value, and promote STEM content and careers. Evaluation of the project will include the use of comparison groups and valid, normed surveys to understand the impact on students, families and afterschool facilitators.