The Value of Afterschool Programs
Afterschool learning has always been a strong core program of 4-H youth development. It can range from making a healthy snack to building a robot.
The America After 3PM has been conducting a survey of parents and guardians in 2004, 2009, and 2014. “One of the most striking findings of the 2014 survey is just how great the demand is for afterschool programs. Over the past decade, the number of children in afterschool programs has grown from 6.5 million to more than 10 million. Parents of an additional 19.4 million children would enroll their children in programs if one were available to them.”
Why STEM (Science, Technology, Engeineering, Math) learning?
Afterschool Alliance reports, “STEM jobs will grow 1.5 times faster than other jobs. Over a third of American companies say at least 50% of applicants for entry-level jobs lack basic STEM skills.”
National 4-H has partnered with other youth-serving organizations to create a new collaboration titled Imagine Science. “Imagine Science is a new initiative backed by a coalition of the national 4-h council, the boys & girls clubs of america, girls inc., and the ymca of the usa. Collectively they serve 18 million youth each year in every state in the nation and U.S. territories. They are targeting by 2020, to inspire millions of under- and un-served youth and to engage them in stem learning opportunities never before offered to these youth.”
source: Imagine Science
The importance of incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into these programs is critical. Some add in an “A” for arts, and some add an extra “M” for medicine. Either way every program we facilitate at some level reaches these core concepts. The ability to relate them back and correlate them to these concepts is the responsibility of the facilitator.
“Quality community-based informal stem learning is inspiring, engaging and impactful for young people; and youth who have these experiences over time before entering high school are more likely to go on to succeed in life and explore studies and careers in stem. 57% of high school freshmen interested in stem will lose interest by their senior year.”
source: Imagine Science
The out of school setting provides flexibility in how we deliver our programs and allows for dynamic ways to engage the youth in learning. “It cultivates experience with experimenting and checking assumptions against data, which helps make everyone better problem-solvers and citizens, qualities our country needs in a complex and changing world.”
The Johnson County 4-H programs are striving to increase our afterschool opportunities through partnerships with schools. Currently, we are conducting the Environmental Explorers 4-H Club at Hocker Grove Middle School. If you have a special talent or skill in the STEM, STEAM, or STEMM fields and are looking at ways to volunteer we encourage you to contact us. The opportunities to mentor and share your skills with youth are always needed.