OST STEM Professional Development

STEM education is based on four specific disciplines - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM integrates these four disciplines into a cohesive curriculum based on real-world applicaitons. We believe our Framework includes essential strategies and skills needed to effectively implement STEM in out-of-school time settings.

Engaging Diverse Learners in STEM

STEM learning opportunities outside of the school day provide access for low-income and racially marginalized communities, disproportionately served by afterschool programs1. Youth exhibit more interest in STEM and better STEM learning outcomes after experiencing hands-on, materials based investigations2. Programs that meet afterschool, on the weekends, or during the summer provide opportunities for youth to experience these types of investigations in an exploratory, supportive, flexible setting. Afterschool can prepare more diverse students to be interested in STEM, succeed in formal STEM courses, and pursue STEM career fields3.

Afterschool Staff Needs

Seven million children have access to afterschool STEM learning experiences4 facilitated by adults with a variety of experience levels, education, and content expertise5. In 2014, 10.2 million children participated in an afterschool program1 and are served by an estimated 680,000 afterschool staff. Afterschool professionals are the cornerstone to high-quality programming and youth outcomes6. However, the afterschool workforce needs access to STEM specific professional development as a way to improve STEM programming7. STEM professional development provided to afterschool staff is linked to positive student outcomes8.

High-Quality STEM Professional Development

Click2SciencePD, developed by Nebraska Extension with funding from the Noyce Foundation, provides online STEM professional development resources for coach/trainers supporting afterschool staff or volunteers. The Click2Science blended professional development model uses a variety of ongoing professional development experiences to improve the instructional skills of afterschool professionals while facilitating STEM learning experiences. Click2Science offers resources including staff development guides, video-based learning modules, technical assistance, webinars, and self-directed, web lessons approved for professional development requirements in 42 states.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) pervades every aspect of our lives. High quality STEM experiences develop critical thinking skills, increase science literacy, and enable the next generation of innovators. By increasing youth’s science attitude, identity, and engagement, we can have a positive & lasting impact on the youth in our programs. Skilled and trained frontline staff and volunteers are one key to raising the quality of STEM experiences in out-of-school time.

High quality, well-facilitated STEM activities encourage youth to be curious, ask questions, and make connections with the world around them; essential skills for success in life and in our global economy. STEM skills are needed for navigating the modern world and competing in the 21st century job market. Programs for youth in out-of-school time can be part of the solution and help ensure that our youth have the skills they need to successfully access available opportunities.

Did you know?

  • By 2018, there will be 1.4 million American computing job openings, but only 29% of those are expected to be filled by U.S. graduates.
  • 75% of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences report that their passion for science was sparked in a non-school setting.
  • Over the course of a year, only 18.5% of a K-12 student’s waking hours are spent in school.
  • Civil engineers are expected to have employment growth of 24% between 2008-18, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Youth that regularly participate in high-quality out-of-school time programs: have fewer absences, have better behavior, and get higher grades.
  • Worker in STEM occupations earn 26% higher wages than non-STEM workers.
  • Employment of mathematicians is expected to grow by 22% between 2008-2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Find more interesting out-of-school STEM facts here.


1Afterschool Alliance (2014). America after 3PM: Afterschool programs in demand. Retrieved from http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/documents/AA3PM-2014/AA3PM_National_R....
2Furtak, E. M., Seidel, T., Iverson, H., & Briggs, D. C. (2012).Experimental and quasi-experimental studies of inquiry-based science teaching: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 82(3), 300-329.doi:10.3102/0034654312457206
3Krishnamurthi, A., & Bevan, B. (2017). From evidence to policy: The case for STEM in afterschool. STEM Ready America: Inspiring and Preparing Students for Success with Afterschool and Summer Learning. Retrieved from: http://stemreadyamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/STEM-Ready_Articl...
4Afterschool Alliance (2015). America after 3PM: Full STEM ahead. Retrieved from http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/STEM.pdf.
5Nee, J., Howe, P., Schmidt, C., & Cole, P. (2006). Understanding the afterschool workforce: Opportunities and challenges for an emerging profession.Houston, TX: National Afterschool Association for Cornerstones for Kids.
6Little, P. (2004). Promoting quality through professional development. Harvard Family Research Project: Issues and Opportunities in Out-of-School Time Evaluation No. 8. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/promo...
7Krishnamurthi, A., & Sankar, R. (2012, July). STEM learning in afterschool: Ready to soar. Dimensions, 38-39. Retrieved from: http://www.astc.org/DimensionsPDFS/2012/JulAug.pdf.
8Vandell, D. L., Simzar, R., O’Cadiz, P., & Hall, V. (2016). Findings from an afterschool STEM learning initiative: Links to professional development and quality STEM learning experiences. The Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities, 1(3), 7-26.