Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in addition to critical thinking skills, collaboration, and team work are all STEM skills that are vital to our state and nation’s workforce and economic development. Out of school time programs support classroom learning by providing an informal setting additional, hands on, engaging and innovative activities where students are able to explore, learn, make and question.
Principles in Quality STEM Activities
- are for all students
- are intentional and standards-based (SC STEM Standards)
- are active, interesting, and relevant to students
- reflect current research and practices
- are age-level appropriate
- integrate skills from different subjects
- incorporate staff training in science teaching
- are based on ongoing assessment of student needs and progress
National STEM System Building Study Results from SC
The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is proud to have participated, along with 11 other states, in a nationwide capacity building project to change the quantity and quality of STEM offerings to young people in after school and summer learning programs. The initiative not only aimed to increase the level and diversity of STEM offerings in more after school programs, but also aimed to evaluated youth outcomes in STEM and 21st century skills.
SC had 16 programs participating in the study hailing from Aiken, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Marlboro, Orangeburg, and Richland Counties. These programs self-reported participation of approximately 2,026 students in STEM activities. Each of the 16 programs was observed at least once by a trained and certified member of the SC Dimensions of Success Observation Team. These professionals used the Dimensions of Success Observation Tool to assess the following 12 dimensions: organization, materials, space utilization, participation, purposeful activities, and engagement with STEM, STEM content learning, inquiry, reflection, relationships, relevance, and youth voice. The following are the only six (6) certified Dimensions of Success observer in South Carolina:
- Liz Joye
- Melissa Lindler
- John Meyers
- Erica McCleskey
- Meika Samuels
- LaTisha Vaughn-Brandon
The results have been tabulated and the highest rated dimensions for the SC programs were materials, space utilization and relationships. Dimensions that may benefit from additional training are purposeful activities and engagement with STEM, STEM content learning, reflection, relevance and youth voice. Plans are being made to hold a celebratory event for these programs in October. Please join the entire SCAA staff in applauding the hard work of these 16 programs, listed below:
- Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach
- Caine Halter YMCA, Greenville
- Charles Pinckney Elementary Kaleidoscope Program, Mt Pleasant
- Communities in Schools of Greenville at Chandler Creek Elementary School, Greenville
- Greenview Elementary Club EdVenture, Columbia
- James B. Edwards Elementary School, Kaleidoscope Program, Mt. Pleasant
- Jeep Rogers YMCA Afterschool Care, Columbia
- Jennie Moore Elementary School, Kaleidoscope Program, Mt Pleasant
- Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School, Kaleidoscope Program, Mt Pleasant
- Pleasant Academy, Kaleidoscope Program, Mt Pleasant
- Orangeburg Area Boys and Girls Club at Zimmerman Youth Center, Orangeburg
- Salvation Army Nancy M. Thurmond Boys and Girls Club, Aiken
- The Quest Zone at Belvedere Elementary School, Belvedere
- The Quest Zone at East Aiken School of the Arts, Aiken
- Wallace Elementary/Middle School Afterschool Program, Wallace
- YMCA Judson Community Center, Greenville
STEM GEMS: Monthly STEM Activities
Cartesian Diver (Download)
Long, long ago an ancient Greek scientist noticed that when he sat in his bathtub, the water overflowed. It was at that moment that Archimedes’ Principle was born. This principle states, “An object immersed in water will experience an upward, buoyant force equal to the weight of the water it displaces.” Your afterschool students can demonstrate this ancient principle by using a modern day soda bottle to create a Cartesian Diver.
Cartesian Divers demonstrate the concepts of air pressure, buoyancy and density through the use of bubbles and pressure. Students will note entirely different reactions are caused when they either squeeze or release their Cartesian Diver. Once your afterschool students learn these concepts, they will understand how scuba divers and submarines float and sink, just like their Cartesian Diver.
Communicating STEM in Out of School Time Settings
The Noyce Foundation recognizes leaders in all sectors need to have messaging tools to be persuasive advocates for STEM, particularly in out of school time settings. The video below and the following are robust resources to assist and guide STEM communications more effectively: The Power of Explanation: Reframing STEM and Informal Learning, Telling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story: A Communications Toolkit, How to Speak STEM-ish
- Nearly 80 percent of future careers will require awareness of and facility with STEM.
- Students in the U.S. rank 25th in math and 17th in science skills among their peers in other industrialized countries.
- Only 43 percent of graduating seniors are ready for college math and 27 percent are ready for college science.
- Just 32 percent of U.S. college undergraduates are graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering.
STEM Learning Ecosystems: How Cross-Sector Collaboration can advance STEM Learning