Passing the Torch: Advancing Opportunity for Quality Science Learning

Passing the Torch








After 10 years of work, the Coalition for Science After School (CSAS) will sunset operations at the end of June. To celebrate the accomplishments of the STEM in out-of-school time (OST) field and (more importantly) to advance the next decade’s work, in March the Coalition held a Summit that brought leaders in the field together for three days of reflection and discussion to envision the next decade of STEM in OST (a full report of the event can be downloaded here). The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) was honored to participate in the Summit and appreciated the opportunity to network and deepen connections with others in the field.

Together, we co-created a history of the field over the last 10 years. Lots of great work has happened over the past decade, but a few things came through loud and clear: 1) The expansion and impact of state and regional networks is a significant development that has momentum; 2) There is an emerging conceptual framework that describes supportive ecosystems for STEM learning across settings; and 3) While great strides have been made in connecting out-of-school STEM learning and science-rich institutions, important work remains to be done.

Looking toward the future, the meeting also illuminated some important opportunities and challenges facing us moving forward. NGCP is committed to working with others in the field to address the following challenges that were identified:

  • Ensure that STEM learning experiences are equitably distributed to young people across the country – in order to accomplish this, we need clarity on what equity looks like, responding to local needs in different communities.
  • Define and implement quality STEM programming in out-of-school time – to make quality programming a reality in every local community, program staff need effective professional development.
  • Communicate research findings to practitioners and funders to advance the field through evidence-based practices.
  • Meaningfully engage important stakeholders like scientists and other STEM content experts as volunteers and mentors for youth and program staff.
  • Increase collaboration in online offerings—to ensure they build upon and work in concert with each other.

No one organization can continue the work of CSAS alone. Similar to NGCP’s core values and beliefs, CSAS is a community, a network of organizations and individuals invested in a common issue, working together to move the field forward. NGCP has a robust history of making STEM learning opportunities more equitable and strengthening the capacity of informal educators to deliver high-quality STEM opportunities to youth and we are committed to continuing and extending our work to all those within the CSAS community.