The awards are part of a project piloting a STEM-related microcredentials and digital badge series offered by NAA and developed with Click2SciencePD. The badges serve as validated, industrywide indicators that afterschool staff have the requisite competencies to facilitate STEM learning across a variety of settings.
Pilot participants cited "learning more about how to incorporate STEM into their programs" and "seeing the students actively involved in projects and excited about what they are doing" as the most rewarding part of the process as they worked toward earning their credentials and badges. STEM coaches noted that participants added quality STEM experiences into their programs more consistently as a result of the project, and that the badge earners finished the pilot excited, eager, and armed with new viewpoints and strategies for incorporating STEM in afterschool.
"This investment in professionalizing the field will accelerate the effort to reframe the role of afterschool staff as learning facilitators with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead youth through the process of exploration and discovery required for effective STEM learning," said Gina Warner, president and CEO, National Afterschool Association. "We're looking forward to continued development of afterschool and youth development professionals with additional credentialing and badging opportunities."
The project, funded by The Noyce Foundation, also generated market research to help inform future work and sustainability planning around microcredentials and digital badges for afterschool professionals in STEM and other subject areas.