Preparing Youth for the Future

On a brisk February morning six years ago, four colleagues and I from the University of Nebraska Extension had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Noyce Foundation about the development of a website. The site would be a resource for staff or volunteers who work with youth outside of school, who maybe weren't really comfortable with leading STEM experience and activities with kids. It would contain videos full of great examples from out-of-school time settings. Lots of them. Guides used by trainers of staff and volunteers would help these resources reach more people, in turn increasing the quality of STEM experiences for more youth. Blogs and webinars would help connect these individuals. It would be simple to use. It would be free and accessible to anyone who worked with youth. And most importantly, because of the resources shared on this website, youth across the United States would be more prepared for the future.

Thinking back to the collective vision shared during this meeting, I am filled with pride, for over the past six years, Click2SciencePD – a STEM professional development for out-of-school time program providers – has gone from a vision to a comprehensive product that was launched fully three years ago and is used by thousands in the youth development profession who work regularly with thousands of youth across America. 

In celebration of Click2Science's 3rd Anniversary, three videos that feature out-of-school time thought leaders and their respective organizations – Jennifer Sirangelo of National 4-H Council, Edwin Link of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Pam Garza of YMCA of the USA, and Gina Warner of National Afterschool Association – will be shared over the course of the next three months. The first video featuring these leaders, Out of School Time Prepares Youth for the Future, highlights how "learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (the subjects collectively known as STEM) help students succeed in school and prepares them for careers that are driving global economic growth (Afterschool Learning is a Powerful STEM Solution, 2016).

As you reflect on the information shared by these leaders, be sure to also download the STEM Learning Prepares Youth for the Future information fact sheet developed by our Click2Science team that shares how STEM is growing, the STEM skills youth need in 2020, and why STEM learning needs to begin early.

Some of the youth we work with in our programs may become engineers; others will select different occupations. However, the opportunities they encounter now focused upon STEM will undoubtedly prepare them for the future. And that perfectly reflects the vision for Click2SciencePD that was developed over six years ago.