Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program
The New York Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), has developed the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, matching afterschool programs in New York City with graduate student members of the Academy's Science Alliance—a program that provides support and career mentoring to 8,000 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in STEM disciplines. Academy staff members work with curriculum partners to develop lessons to train graduate students and place these students in afterschool programs as instructors and mentors, with the aim of both solidifying foundational science education and fostering better communication of science by young researchers. Afterschool programs enhance communities and enrich the lives of children by providing safe, supportive, and structured environments. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an association exists between participation in high quality afterschool programs and higher scores on standardized tests. However, DYCD's afterschool programs currently suffer a documented scarcity of quality science educators and curricula.
As a step in addressing this shortage and the lagging science achievement by New York City students, the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program has the distinct ability to inspire high-need K-12 students with an infusion of energy, enthusiasm, and expertise. Mentors have the invaluable opportunity to work outside university walls and impart their knowledge to the students who need it most. The afterschool students, who predominantly come from underserved communities, not only receive exposure to new and engaging curricula, but they also learn from young scientists, who, while working to inspire a new generation of scientific innovators, also serve as positive role-models and mentors.
How it Works
We invite graduate student and postdoc members of the Academy's Science Alliance to apply for the Science Education Fellows Program. Selected Science Alliance members participate in pedagogical workshops and receive training to teach innovative curricula modules developed by esteemed institutions, such as FIRST, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Cornell University. Graduate student and postdoc mentors have the opportunity to choose one of five curriculum modules, including Robotics, Genetics, Earth Science, Ornithology and Biodiversity, and Space Science. They then teach these curricula and serve as mentors to students in the city's afterschool programs. Networking events are held each semester so that Science Alliance members can connect with each other and report on the challenges and successes they have encountered in the classroom.
Participating Afterschool Sites
The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program places graduate student and postdoc mentors in DYCD afterschool programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The DYCD determined the areas with the greatest need for afterschool services by targeting 77 zip codes according to six demographic variables: youth population; youth poverty rate; rate of youth ages 16–19 years who are not in school, not high school graduates, and not in the labor force; number of English Language Learners (ELL) students in public school; number of single parent families with related children under 18 years of age; and number of children eligible for New York State subsidized childcare. More than 60% of all DYCD programs are located in these areas, and are provided at no cost to participants. By partnering with DYCD, the Academy is able to reach students across the city who are in the greatest need of receiving extra support in STEM education and engaging with mentors who serve as positive role models.
The New York Academy of Sciences Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), will match NYC's graduate students and postdocs with afterschool programs in New York City. The program will address the dearth of access to hands-on science for underserved communities by delivering new and engaging curricula to middle school students.
This program was made possible by generous support from the The Achelis and Bodman Foundations, The Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Fordham Street Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives - Paul Walker, The William Randolph Hearst Foundations, Infosys Foundation USA, The Pamela B. and Thomas C. Jackson Fund, Drs. Gabrielle Reem and Herbert Kayden, Laurie J. Landeau, Martin Leibowitz, National Science Foundation (DRL 1223303), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York Community Trust, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Staten Island Foundation, Verizon Foundation, and The Laura B. Vogler Foundation.
The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL-1223303). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.