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

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:

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:

STEM GEMS: Monthly STEM Activities

By: National Afterschool Association

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 LearningTelling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story: A Communications ToolkitHow to Speak STEM-ish

Key Statistics


Local/State Resources

The Condition of STEM Education 2015

STEM Learning Ecosystems: How Cross-Sector Collaboration can advance STEM Learning

South Carolina Coalition for Math & Sciences

National Resources

Afterschool STEM Hub


EiE: Engineering Adventures (Grades 3th-5th) and Engineering Everywhere (Grades 6th-8th)

Models (The Modeling Designs for Learning Science) 

Noyce Foundation

NBA Math Hoops


Science in Afterschool: literature review