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We're Back ... With STEM News!

Dear Readers,
I sincerely apologize for stretching a one-week break into weeks more. All I can say is that I've been on other assignments of late, but finally I'm getting back to what's really important: expanded learning!

Needless to say, news on the expanded-learning front has not taken a break. Just this morning, I received an e-mail about a new and seemingly unprecedented initiative focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) learning and out-of-school learning time.

"It's absolutely vital" that K-12 education "excites students about STEM and gives them a solid grounding for advanced learning and subsequent careers in STEM fields," Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant said in a news release. "Because they offer hands-on, experiential learning opportunities, mentoring, and career development, after-school and summer learning programs are uniquely positioned to help educate the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers."

The STEM initiative represents a collaboration between the Afterschool Alliance, the National AfterSchool Association, and the National Summer Learning Association. Its goal is to make 2011 the "Year of Science in Afterschool."

The program is supported by the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Noyce Foundation and includes the following components designed to improve the quality of beyond-school STEM learning:

  • Educate after-school and summer practitioners and provide pathways to professional development to help deliver high-quality STEM programming;
  • Increase national, state, and local media coverage of STEM learning outside the traditional school day;
  • Educate national, state, and local policymakers about best practices in STEM learning outside the school day; and
  • Advocate greater public and private investment in STEM.
So, what do you think of all this? Are you already focusing on or aware of expanded-learning programs focused on STEM? Let's get back in touch—I look forward to restarting our "conversation" on beyond school in coming weeks!
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