Guest post by Kathleen Lodl, Associate Dean, Nebraska Extension, University of Nebraska, Lincoln email@example.com
High quality, well-facilitated STEM activities encourage youth to be curious, ask questions, and make connections with the world around them. These are essential skills for success in life and increasingly important in the global economy.
Out-of-school time (OST) STEM programs can help ensure that young people have these skills. Yet three major barriers prevent OST STEM programs from doing this:
- Many program staff and volunteers lack the capacity they need to effectively plan and facilitate STEM learning in a way that builds the knowledge and skills that young people need.
- There is often a high rate of turnover in staff and volunteers in afterschool and summer programs.
- Programs struggle with insufficient funding for professional development.
Enter Click2SciencePD (Click)!
Developed with support from the Noyce Foundation by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Click is a low-cost, interactive, high-impact STEM professional development tool for the OST field.
Designed for OST trainers, coaches, site directors, and frontline staff/volunteers, Click is organized around building 20 key skills needed to plan active STEM learning experiences, interact with youth doing STEM, and build STEM skills in youth.
Click builds capacity for many different types of programs and can be used in a variety of different ways. For example:
- The STEM Active Learning Community Partners Working Group and Iowa Afterschool Alliance used Click to improve staff skills in planning active STEM learning experiences. They found that after participating in a workshop and follow-up coaching, staff designed activities that were more likely to engage young learners.
- The Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care Alliance, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network and the National Afterschool Association used Click to increase the quality of staff’s STEM teaching and found that staff improved their skills at engaging youth in STEM.
Other OST coaches and trainers are using Click resources conduct trainings for their front-line staff, coordinate meetings, coach their staff, plan workshops, teach college students preparing to be after-school educators or to explore new STEM related resources.
As additional resources targeting specific user groups (rural, young women, etc.) and content areas (engineering, math, etc.) are developed, Click will continue to grow its presence as a critical professional development resource for OST staff. Be sure to register on the Click2SciencePD site to receive the newsletter.
Please direct questions and comments about Click to Kathleen Lodl: firstname.lastname@example.org.