AISL Workshop Series: Understanding the Challenges to Achieving Best Practice in Afterschool Science
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), will hold three two-day workshops (in New Jersey, Kansas, and California) for regional and state-level leaders in afterschool science education in more than 20 states who have been associated with the National Partnerships for After School Science (NPASS), Design It! and Explore It! afterschool science initiatives. The workshops will be designed to strengthen ties among current and prospective members of the NPASS network and to identify issues for future research for the after school field at large aimed at increasing understanding of how afterschool science programs succeed or fail. Despite the current absence of centralized support to maintain or expand this network, many of its members continue to offer NPASS and NPASS-like programming in their states. The workshops will bring together some of the most experienced leaders in the NPASS network as well as experienced advocates and leaders of afterschool science from beyond the network. The project builds on 15 years of prior work conducted by EDC that developed afterschool science and engineering curricula that was nationally disseminated via the NPASS network and train-the-trainer workshops. The project will support the overall strategy of the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program to enhance learning in informal environments through the funding of innovative resources through a variety of settings. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. The regional workshops will be designed to: (1) enable leaders of the NPASS network to re-establish ties and renew their understanding of and commitment to best practices and critical elements of afterschool science; (2) gather information about common obstacles to implementation of these practices and about when, where, and why adaptations to these best practices occur, and what they (the practitioners) believe to be the impact on program quality; and (3) identify questions for further research. The findings from these workshops will be broadly disseminated to the field via a report summarizing the proceedings and findings from the workshop, including a revised NPASS statement of critical structural and pedagogical elements on practices critical to successful afterschool science programming.
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