After-school Programs Foster STEM skills

24 May 2017

In the recent study by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next, “Afterschool & STEM: System Building Evaluation 2016,” surveyed and looked at the impact of more than 160 after-school programs providing informal STEM education in 11 states. Nearly 1,600 students in grades 4 through 12 took part in the programs.

“After-school works and can be part of the solution for really helping to have more educational opportunities available for kids, particularly for low income kids and for kids who are in underserved populations,” Gywnn Hughes, senior program officer at Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, said at the STEM Ready America event in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

According to the study, more than 70 percent of students in all participating states showed positive gains in STEM subjects, careers, knowledge and 21st-century skills by participating in STEM-focused programs after school.

The study also found that 80 percent of students reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge, 78 percent said their interest in science had increased, 72 percent reported an increase in their perseverance and critical thinking skills and 73 percent reported an increase in “STEM identity” – a personal belief that he or she can do well and succeed at science.

Dr. James Gates, noted physicist and activist for STEM learning, delivered the keynote speech at an event emphasizing the importance of “drawing people into science at an emotional level” and creating “opportunities for inspiration for individual and group experience outside the classroom.”

In Hong Kong, while we are asking the society to give more rooms for our next generation to do less routine drilling, parents would like to ask for alternatives. STEM activities could be one of the options for kids after-school.
From our program experience, we find positive gain among the participants. They have strong motivation to join the session and very focus in developing their solution to the problem during the activity time. Most of the students ask parents to enroll again in the next class at the end of the program. To us, it is a sign of drawing their attention to STEM and arouse their interest to apply the findings in daily life.
When children keep motivated and inspired in a young age, they build up the  passion to innovate and create when they grow up.