Let’s Create More Afterschool Programs Geared Toward STEM
We must work together as a community to create more afterschool programs geared TOWARD STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
WHY SHOULD WE CREATE MORE AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS?
It is OUR responsibility as a COMMUNITY to create more STEM programs because underprivileged students in our community do NOT have ADEQUATE resources toward after school programs that WOULD enrich their STEM skills and PROVIDE our students with an enhanced FUTURE.
If there were more structured afterschool programs, the students could use their afterschool time to work on their academic skill set, including STEM skills.
This policy brief outlines the possible benefits of instilling more afterschool programs geared toward STEM because students who participate in afterschool STEM have a greater likelihood of going to college for a STEM related career than those who do not participate in an afterschool program.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST?
Females, minorities, and underserved youth have NOT been provided with the same opportunities as the majority of males coming from affluent families (Ahlqvist, London, Rosenthal, 2013, p. 1650). Students in OUR community have NOT had ACCESS to STEM programs because we have NOT fought on THEIR behalf.
If those students are not given access to special after school programs, they will be NOT be given the opportunity to pursue a career in the growing field of STEM. Since many of our students come from families of low socio-economic status, the opportunity to participate in an afterschool program specifically geared toward STEM can prove to be invaluable to the students (Das, 2013, p. 1).
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Project Syncere is a local, Chicago organization (based in the Kenwood neighborhood) and aims its efforts toward bringing underserved individuals toward STEM studies. The founders of the organization believe afterschool programs geared toward STEM provides students with a UNIQUE opportunity to learn valuable skills related toward STEM. Their organization has inspired many young females and minority students to want to pursue STEM careers and to help fight the gender and socio-economic gap within people in STEM careers.
There has been research conducted analyzing the effectiveness of an afterschool environmental science program for increasing female students’ interest in science careers. This study was aimed at females in the 4th and 5th grades and wanted to measure the impact of the participation in an afterschool program on interest in science (Wood & Ellison, 2011, p. 46). The results indicated that afterschool programs are an effective way of spreading awareness of STEM and also increased participants’ interest in sciences over non-participants. As a result, MORE afterschool programs should be implemented to increase interest in STEM among female and minority students.
Pre-surveys with post-surveys were compared, which indicated that the number of students interested in pursuing a career in an engineering- related field increased
by 18.2%, the number of students interest in becoming engineers increased by 9.4%, and the number of students how may want to become an engineer increased by 25% (Weber, 2011, p. 18).
FURTHERMORE, afterschool programs offer students MORE than just the opportunity to study STEM and enrich their academic future. These programs provide students with a safe environment that keeps them out of criminal activity. Often, adolescents coming from low-income families are prone toward joining gangs or becoming involved in criminal activity. HOWEVER, afterschool programs allow students to spend a few hours after school learning important tools that set them apart from their peers and also instill the desire to pursue a life greater than those of illegal behavior.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
In conclusion, we MUST enact more afterschool science programs. Since technology has boomed in the past few decades, males coming from financially well off families have dominated the STEM industry. We must WORK TOGETHER to END the INEQUALITIES between students who are GIVEN the opportunity to learn STEM-related skills and those who are NOT.
SINCE research has SHOWN the implementation of STEM afterschool programs has sparked interest in STEM studies among minority and female students, we are obligated to CREATE more of these STEM programs. These students WILL go onto leading STEM careers that WILL enrich the future of our community.
Less troubled youth will turn to crime and MORE of our bright and intelligent youth will be able to pursue a career in the booming industry of STEM IF WE CREATE MORE STEM AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS.
LET US FOLLOW THE LEAD OF ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS PROJECT SYNCERE WHO HAVE ALREADY LED SO MANY STUDENTS TOWARD LEARNING ABOUT STEM IN AFTER SCHOOL SETTINGS!LET US HELP UNDERSERVED STUDENTS REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF STEM EDUCATION. Let us NOT hold back these brilliant minds FROM pursuing a future in a STEM career.
Ahlqvist, S., London, B., & Rosenthal, L. (2013). Unstable Identity Compatibility: How Gender Rejection Sensitivity Undermines the Success of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields. Psychological Science (Sage Publications Inc.), 24(9), 1644-1652. doi:10.1177/0956797613476048
Das, M. (2013). Woman and Internet: A Philosophical Study of Gender Inequality Between Male and Female. Golden Research Thoughts, 3(1), 1-5.
Tyler-Wood, T., Ellison, A., Lim, O., & Periathiruvadi, S. (2012). Bringing Up Girls in Science (BUGS): The Effectiveness of an Afterschool Environmental Science Program for Increasing Female Students' Interest in Science Careers. Journal Of Science Education & Technology, 21(1), 46-55. doi:10.1007/s10956-011-9279-2
Weber, K. (2011). Role Models and Informal STEM-Related Activities Positively Impact Female Interest in STEM. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 71(3), 18-21.