To the Editor:
The excellent blog post “The Candy Bar Effect: More Research Needed on STEM Programs’ Impact” deftly identifies the challenges involved in developing and evaluating “learning ecosystems” that support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for children.
There’s little doubt that resolving those challenges will require educators and policymakers to think differently about how the hours during and after school can be used to reinforce mastery of these important skills.
This fall, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Robert Noyce Foundation will convene experts from government, business, and education for the nation’s first STEM summit focusing specifically on the importance of after- and out-of-school hours in reshaping learning in these subjects.
As noted in the blog post, if we seek positive impact through STEM education, we must begin to think beyond the traditional school day and utilize the hours after school and during the summer to give students alternative opportunities to learn. And if we are to achieve real education reform, we need to think through how we evaluate these programs—in school and out—to develop models that promote excellence.
We believe collaboration is key to achieving this outcome. We encourage educators and policymakers to use the National Research Council’s new report, “Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings,” as a platform for further exploration of STEM education and its potential for preparing our students for a vastly different world and workforce.
Los Altos, Calif.
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
A version of this article appeared in the August 19, 2015 edition of Education Week as Is Out-of-School Learning the Key to STEM Success?