"Examining the Impact of Afterschool STEM Programs," published this July by Anita Krishnamurthi and Melissa Ballard of Afterschool Alliance, and Gil G. Noam of Harvard University, overviews some of the recent research findings about the importance of afterschool and other out-of-school time experiences for STEM learning.
Several themes emerged in their analysis:
1. Afterschool STEM programs are successful in engaging and retaining large numbers of students from diverse populations.
2. Young people in these programs express curiosity and interest in STEM subjects in ways that extended that interest in school and out of school.
3. As they participate, young people gain real skills and the ability to productively engage in STEM processes of investigation.
4. Youth learn essential STEM-relevant life and career skills.
5. Participants come to understand the value of STEM in contributing to society and solving global and local problems. They begin to see how STEM intimately connects to their everyday lives.
6. Youth display an increased awareness of career options, as well as a nuanced understanding of those careers.
7. Afterschool STEM programs can have an impact on academic performance.
Consistent findings across the programs evaluated give confidence to the following conclusion: Students participating in afterschool STEM programs have immediate and long-term gains on a number of STEM-related dimensions.