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WisdomTools Ignites STEM Learning

WisdomTools presented and exhibited the 2013 Multi-State 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our conference presentation was titled “Ignite! STEM Learning with Standards-Based Activities!” and focused on how to implement quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program in out of school time (OST) settings.  The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) has developed a series of standards focused on helping programs implement high-quality programming across multiple dimensions including STEM, summer learning, mentoring, college and career readiness, and general OST standards. WisdomTools is helping educate programs on how to effectively use the standards. The session also included examples of quality programming available as part of the NASA Ignite! program.

WisdomTools team members Amy Starzynski and Adrienne Evans Fernandez at our booth showcasing the NASA Ignite! program at the Multi-State Conference 2013.

WisdomTools team members Amy Starzynski and Adrienne Evans Fernandez at our booth showcasing the NASA Ignite! program at the Multi-State Conference 2013.

This exciting annual conference brings together 21st Century Community Learning Center Directors from five Midwest states to share best practices and innovations in afterschool and summer programming. These programs provide creative afterschool programs for thousands of low-income youth and inspire them to create their future. The conference featured 750 afterschool and youth development leaders from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The theme of the two-day conference was Mission Possible, expanding on the idea that education and afterschool leaders can cooperate to broaden learning beyond the school day. On the 23rd of September Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz started off the conference. “This conference is an exciting opportunity for Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz. “Wrap-around services like afterschool and summer programs are fundamental building blocks in transforming learning for all students in our state and I look forward to taking part in this discussion.”

    WisdomTools’ Adrienne Evans Fernandez demonstrating a lesson from the NASA Toys in Space curriculum. In this example, a kendama is used to teach about how microgravity works.

WisdomTools’ Adrienne Evans Fernandez demonstrating a lesson from the NASA Toys in Space curriculum. In this example, a kendama is used to teach about how microgravity works.

WisdomTools’ presence was especially important since in Indiana only 10% of K-12 youth participate in afterschool programs, and 332,600 children are left home alone in the afternoons, including many kindergartners (Afterschool Alliance, 2009). Research shows that affluent children have greater access to learning resources beyond the school day. This is causing a widening achievement gap between high- and low-income youth that could help be prevented by encouraging participation in quality afterschool activities engage children with hands-on learning. Participation in afterschool and summer programing could add the equivalent of 144 school days to a student’s year.

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