Tag Archives: science

FAN awarded a STEM System Building grant

5 May

From the new Florida Afterschool Network STEM Policy Director, Samantha Thorstensen:

Through a grant awarded to the Florida Afterschool Network in 2014 by the NOYCE Foundation, FAN has begun to build a quality STEM system for afterschool programs in the state of Florida.  We are excited to already be working with regional partners in Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and Tallahassee.  These partners will host existing afterschool programs to help them to build quality STEM activities within their programs.  The first to do so is the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) in Jacksonville, which is hosting a STEM Afterschool Workshop on September 20, 2014.  This workshop will feature additional FAN STEM partners, such as NASA STEM educators, MOSH educators, the National Magentic Laboratory, CPALMS, and Click2Science representatives.

Workshops of this nature with all of our regional partners are in the works, with the goals of :

  1. Increasing the percentage of students successful at conducting real-world STEM projects and inquiry, capable of authentic and collaborative problem solving, proficient in applying multidisciplinary knowledge and skills through STEM, and knowledgeable about and interested in STEM careers;
  2. Increasing the quality and quantity of STEM educators;
  3. Creating a statewide sustainable STEM leadership organization to align existing and emerging STEM initiatives and represent Florida as one voice in meeting STEM demands.

If programs are committed to prioritizing quality STEM learning, they must also apply the resolve needed to provide quality support to their staff.  Professional development is absolutely vital to advancing quality STEM learning.  Programs must also commit to quality STEM learning beyond training.  Quality STEM learning activities offer time for student reflection.  The plan should focus on increasing student interest and engagement, ensuring that each of their activities are purposeful in support of their plan, and links cohesviely to what students are learning in the core instructional day.  Program leaders must seek the resources, tools and partnerships necessary to make such a plan successful.  These workshops will help build quality STEM plans for programs, as well as guide and support them with resources to accomplish this.

Support of FAN’s work to help infuse STEM into afterschool is overflowing across Florida.  This support was evident at the Midwest Afterschool Science Academy held in Kansas City in April 2014. where Florida stood out as a shining example of community and state support.

FAN’s staff has also bee working together with other exciting projects and partners, which include:

  • The National Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program,
  • the Florida Institute of Technology TEDx event,
  • Prime Time of West Palm Beach Afterschool Symposium, and
  • NASA Days with Florida program.

Look form more amazing STEM-ulating projects in the near future for Florida afterschool programs!

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 www.myfan.org.