A national initiative led by EDC’s Center for Science Education (CSE) and Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) in Berkeley, California, has recruited community program leaders across the country to help them implement high quality science and engineering activities in afterschool programs. The three-year project, National Partnerships for Afterschool Science (N-PASS), is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“Often the program leaders in afterschool settings don’t have the science background or the teaching experience to ask the right question, and at the right time, to make extended science projects work well for children. Given this situation, there is a widespread need for ongoing professional development,” says CSE’s Bernie Zubrowski, principal investigator of the initiative.
Taking a cue from education research that indicates that occasional or one-time training has little impact on the way teachers present science material to their students, the initiative focuses on long-term training and support of program leaders based at science centers and 4-H extension agencies in order to ensure a lasting impact on the way their institutions offer informal science experiences to elementary school children.
“We have identified some really good science investigations that we want children in afterschool programs to experience. What the field needs now are training networks that give afterschool educators the skills to lead these projects confidently and well,” says CSE’s Charles Hutchison, co-principal investigator of the initiative.
N-PASS trainers are divided into three “mentor groups”—East Coast, Midwest, and Western Region – each lead by a science center that has previous experience training community-based staff to run afterschool science programs. Each 4-H or science center trainer recruits five or more community-based afterschool organizations in their region to attend half-day monthly workshops, where the afterschool staff learns how to lead extended science and engineering projects with children aged 8–12. Mentors in Boston; St. Paul, Minn.; and Berkeley, Calif., provide ongoing support to the trainers in their regions and share findings and training materials with the N-PASS project management team. EDC, meanwhile, is developing training guides and other training aides for N-PASS partners and for the field.
Originally published on August 1, 2006