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NASA Makes Out-of-School Time 'Out of This World'

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NASA is doing its bit to keep students' heads in the clouds—and beyond—with several out-of-school-time programs, highlighted in a new report from the White House Council on Women and Girls, that focus on attracting underrepresented girls to science.

As the name indicates, Afterschool Universe is an astronomy program developed by the space agency to strengthen middle school students' natural fascination with the stars and the cosmos, which is often overlooked due to budget and scheduling constraints. 

"Middle school years are a critical time in the development of attitudes about science and career options, especially in girls," according to the program's website, which provides a free, 12-week lesson plan.    

The first public school just for girls in the state of Tennessee is a college-prep program for middle and high school students focused on STEAM—that's science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy operates a year-round, extended-day school where girls learn coding, get help with school work from community mentors and participate in learning expeditions co-sponsored by local business and community organizations.

The extra 200 hours of instructional time each year allows the school to provide tutoring and special projects that there's not enough time for during a typical school day.

Inside the secure gates of the NASA Ames Research Center, some 30 miles south of San Francisco, teams of Girl Scouts design and build robots and prep them to test their mettle (and even some actual metals) against each other through a program called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST.

Since it was founded in 1989, FIRST has trained hundreds of robotics teams throughout the country.

 

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