New York Academy of Sciences Expands Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program to New Jersey Middle Schools
NYAS partners with Citizen Schools to expand K-12 Science Education Initiative into Newark
Systemic programming and investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education are imperative for improving STEM literacy in our future workforce—our nation’s current students. With this in mind, the New York Academy of Sciences launched the NYAS K-12 Science Education Initiative in New York City in 2010, with the goal of addressing lagging achievement in STEM disciplines in primary schools. The central programs of this initiative include the Academy’s Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program and the Science Teacher Program, targeting not only K-12 students but also educators who cultivate and expand scientific development in schools. In partnership with Citizen Schools, a national non-profit organization that runs middle school afterschool programs in the Newark area, the NYAS K-12 Science Education Initiative is now being expanded to address lagging scientific achievement and disparities in education in New Jersey, with a specific focus on Newark.
In urban centers, such as Newark, where underserved minority students face a significant achievement gap, acquiring skills STEM disciplines may not only improve academic performance, but can aid students in finding a pathway out of poverty and plug the leaky pipeline from schools to jobs. Without evidence-based interventions beginning at the earliest stages of students’ lives and supports that continue through their careers, the lack of individual STEM literacy in urban areas, and indeed, all across the United States will continue its downward spiral. A strategic approach to preparing a strong future cadre of native raised, qualified STEM professionals is essential for the United States to keep pace in our fast evolving global innovation economy (National Academy of Science, 2008). The NYAS K-12 Science Education Initiative hopes to provide those early learning supports needed to foster a renewed engagement with science and technology in students in the greater New York City area.
In its pilot year the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program surpassed its goals of both graduate student mentor involvement and primary school student participation. As of last year, NYAS Afterschool mentors will have provided more than 3,120 hours of hours of high quality, hands-on science activities, inspiring the city’s most underserved children and instilling them with confidence about their talents in science and math. Based on the achievements of the STEM Mentoring Program in New York City, the Academy believes that with the support of Citizen Schools it can scale this model to impact science education in New Jersey. A pilot program for placing New Jersey-based graduate students in New Jersey middle school programs will begin this September, 2011.
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide since 1817. With 24,000 members in 140 countries, NYAS is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. NYAS' core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. For more information, visit www.nyas.org.
Citizen Schools is a national educational non-profit. Since its founding in Boston in 1995, it has been re-imagining the learning day to bring more time, more talented adults, and more relevant learning experiences to middle-school students in low-income neighborhoods. By getting citizens off the sidelines and into schools each year, Citizen Schools hopes to close the achievement gap and increase access to the American Dream. Visit www.citizenschools.org.