As National STEM/STEAM Day approaches (November 8), program directors may find themselves in a position of fighting for the creation or continuation of an afterschool STEM program.
The Afterschool Alliance has created a resource for afterschool STEM program advocacy and the website offers a wealth of information for directors who want to be advocates for their programs. Here are four of the talking points recommended by the Afterschool Alliance when talking to the public about STEM programs:
- Why does this matter to society: Describe the ways society benefits from students who pursue STEM careers and how they will be prepared to tackle future problems society will face.
- How does this work: Describe how the afterschool environment can spark a love for learning about STEM in real-world situation, thus making kids who are not really “math and science kids” interested in the subjects. Also discuss the way that immersion outside of the classroom can help students become “fluent” in the language of STEM and further develop the skills they practice in the classroom.
- What’s the problem: Discuss how many students lack the opportunity to become “fluent” in STEM because there are not enough afterschool programs and those that do exist do not offer the STEM experiences frequently enough. Many rural communities face unequal access to STEM learning because of school requirements, lack of transportation, and a lack of state funding for afterschool programs.
- What can we do about it: Offer ways to build a network of partnerships between afterschool programs, schools, science centers, libraries, and families. Connecting with others helps make the STEM program richer and more fulfilling for students. Supporting community asset maps helps identify STEM learning resources no matter how small a community might be. Finally, afterschool STEM programs can allow more women and minorities to become interested in and consider future careers in these fields.
For more information on STEM program advocacy visit: http://afterschoolstemhub.org/