Over the course of six weeks, the Nebraska Children blog has invited Jeff Cole, Associate Vice President of School-Community Partnerships for Beyond School Bells, to write some guest posts sharing his program’s work.
One of the most exciting developments in the world of afterschool and summer programming – what we call Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) programs – is the rise of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programming, commonly referred to as the STEM fields.
Over the past four years, Beyond School Bells (BSB) has been working with partners across our great state to help spread the word that ELOs and STEM learning are a perfect match. To gain fluency in STEM fields and begin to develop and identify as STEM learners, young people need exposure to STEM concepts outside of the classroom. Through engaging, hands-on STEM experiences, young people in Nebraska’s ELO programs are becoming the excited, inspired STEM learners we need to create the jobs that will fuel our future prosperity.
BSB also promotes the belief that everyone has a role to play in helping Nebraska’s youth develop STEM skills. To this end, we support STEM programming in all of our Coalition communities that builds local capacity and collaborations with STEM-rich institutions. This support has included funding for environmental science projects, robotics, DNA testing, information technology, gardening, and career exploration clubs, among many others. We also work closely with our partners at UNL’s 4-H Click2SciencePD to provide professional development opportunities for afterschool educators interested in providing high-quality programming to participating youth.
With the growth of these partnerships and exciting, high-quality STEM programs, BSB sees afterschool and summer programs across Nebraska becoming important community “charging stations” where youth can become excited about the STEM concepts and see opportunities to apply them in their own homes and communities.
In this week’s companion video, we explore the many facets of ELO STEM and encourage STEM professionals in every community to partner with their afterschool and summer program to provide the next generation with exposure to the STEM fields that will play such a critical role in their success and our collective prosperity.