Archive | June, 2013

New Standards: Transforming Florida’s Educational Landscape 2013

20 Jun

For the next featured article from the compendium Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett provides a look at the importance of the relationship between the Common Core State Standards and afterschool.

“The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards developed and supported by state leaders.  Along with 45 other states, the Florida State Board of Education adopted the standards in July of 2010.  Our shared goal is to ensure all students are college and career ready when they graduate high school.  The standards will transform the way our teachers teach, the way our students learn and the way we assess student performance.  The Common Core will require students to be much greater problem solvers and critical thinkers.  In addition, the standards are internationally benchmarked and provide for inter-state comparability, which means for the first time in our nation’s history we will ensure Florida’s children are learning at a competitive level with their national and international peers.

Some of you likely have questions about the relationship between the Common Core and afterschool programs.  Study after study indicates that students who participate in afterschool programs improve their academic achievement, behavior, attendance and graduation rates.  High quality programs are critical to improving our students’ educational experience, especially when they’re aligned with the Common Core.  Afterschool programs have a unique opportunity to create direct links between the standards and academic content.  Doing so will ensure students develop a deeper understanding of the information they are exposed to in school and in afterschool programs.

Your partnership will be even more critical to our students’ success as we move towards full implementation of the Common Core in the 2014-2015 school year.  Thank you for all the work you do to improve the lives of students through afterschool programs and all other expanded learning opportunities.”

The article below, Building Mastery of the Common Core State Standards by Expanding Learning with Community Stakeholder Partnerships, highlights how afterschool programs and expanded learning oppurtunities can create a stronger understanding of the concepts outlined in the Common Core. The article is a part of Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, a compendium that features studies, reports and commentaries on expanded learning opportunities.


FAN, MIT, NASA Launch 2013 Summer Robotics Program

17 Jun


For the last five months, the Florida Afterschool Network has been working closely with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch an exciting, project-based, summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum for middle school students.  The program began today, June 17, in four counties.

Ten teams of middle school students from Brevard, Indian River, Orange, and St. Lucie counties will work with leaders in the science and technology fields to learn and write coding to control SPHERE satellites aboard the International Space Station. At the conclusion of the summer, the teams will compete against one another, as well as against teams from California, Georgia, Idaho, and Massachusetts, to determine the most effective code.  The final competition will take place live, on the International Space Station.  Each team will serve up to 20 middle school youth.

“The programs selected to participate in the Zero Robotics Summer SPHERES Program have demonstrated a commitment to including innovative STEM curriculum in their summer programs,” said Larry Pintacuda, CEO of the Florida Afterschool Network.  “The teams will work with program staff and scientists to learn about robotics and space engineering while gaining hands-on experience.”

“Governor Rick Scott has been very focused on increasing awareness about the importance of STEM subjects and careers,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett.  “By providing students with the opportunity to build relationships with experts in the field, and learn in a team-oriented environment, students will discover the wonderful possibilities of working in the science and technology community.”

SPHERES are bowling-ball sized spherical satellites used inside the International Space Station to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous formation flight and docking maneuvers. “SPHERES” is an acronym for Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites.

The Summer SPHERES Program is a continuation of the programming made available in 2010 through NASA’s Summer of Innovation Grant Program, which originated at MIT in the Boston area.

For more information on afterschool and out-of-school time, as well as summer programming, in Florida, visit