Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in addition to critical thinking skills, collaboration, and team work are all STEM skills that are vital to our state and nation’s workforce and economic development. Out of school time programs support classroom learning by providing an informal setting additional, hands on, engaging and innovative activities where students are able to explore, learn, make and question.

Principles in Quality STEM Activities

National STEM System Building Study Results from SC

The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is proud to have participated, along with 11 other states, in a nationwide capacity building project to change the quantity and quality of STEM offerings to young people in after school and summer learning programs.  The initiative not only aimed to increase the level and diversity of STEM offerings in more after school programs, but also aimed to evaluated youth outcomes in STEM and 21st century skills.

SC had 16 programs participating in the study hailing from Aiken, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Marlboro, Orangeburg, and Richland Counties. These programs self-reported participation of approximately 2,026 students in STEM activities.  Each of the 16 programs was observed at least once by a trained and certified member of the SC  Dimensions of Success Observation Team. These professionals used the Dimensions of Success Observation Tool to assess the following 12 dimensions: organization, materials, space utilization, participation, purposeful activities, and engagement with STEM, STEM content learning, inquiry, reflection, relationships, relevance, and youth voice.  The following are the only six (6) certified Dimensions of Success observer in South Carolina:

The results have been tabulated and the highest rated dimensions for the SC programs were materials, space utilization and relationships. Dimensions that may benefit from additional training are purposeful activities and engagement with STEM, STEM content learning, reflection, relevance and youth voice. Plans are being made to hold a celebratory event for these programs in October. Please join the entire SCAA staff in applauding the hard work of these 16 programs, listed below:



Afterschool programs are invited to take on the 2018-19 GeoChallenge—Tackling Plastic! Teams of students (grades 5-8) will investigate the urgent issue of plastic pollution in our waterways. If your team is ready, you can submit your solutions by January 15th to join the national competition.

The GeoChallenge is FREE to register and download all of the activities you will need to help your kids engage, think, act, and impact! Students gain skills in research and storytelling, collaboration, videography, innovative design, and mapmaking. Empower your students to change the world! Register here:       Take the Geo Challenge


Mott + National Geo LOA Ship.jpeg

Real-world problems call for critical thinking and real-world solutions and afterschool programs are a great place for kids to learn, collaborate, and figure out how to make their communities better. The Mott Foundation and National Geographic want to help afterschool programs open the world to young people.

National Geographic has been pushing the boundaries of knowledge, exploring the planet from its highest peaks to its deepest depths for more than 130 years. Now you can bring this spirit of exploration to your afterschool program!

Join Explorer Classroom #LightsOnAfterschool Special

Looking for new ways to inspire and connect young people to STEM careers and role models in your afterschool program? Take them aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus! Make the experience all or part of your Lights On celebration, showing the worlds that open to kids in afterschool.

Tuesday, October 23rd 3:15pm – 4:15pm ET. Register now!


In an interactive experience, explorer Dr. Robert Ballard will share how his team explores the never-before-explored ocean floor. Participants can send questions, even asking how they found the Titanic! All you need is an internet connection and access to YouTube.

STEM GEMS: Monthly STEM Activities

By: National Afterschool Association

Cartesian Diver (Download)

Long, long ago an ancient Greek scientist noticed that when he sat in his bathtub, the water overflowed. It was at that moment that Archimedes’ Principle was born. This principle states, “An object immersed in water will experience an upward, buoyant force equal to the weight of the water it displaces.” Your afterschool students can demonstrate this ancient principle by using a modern day soda bottle to create a Cartesian Diver.

Cartesian Divers demonstrate the concepts of air pressure, buoyancy and density through the use of bubbles and pressure. Students will note entirely different reactions are caused when they either squeeze or release their Cartesian Diver. Once your afterschool students learn these concepts, they will understand how scuba divers and submarines float and sink, just like their Cartesian Diver.


Communicating STEM in Out of School Time Settings

The Noyce Foundation recognizes leaders in all sectors need to have messaging tools to be persuasive advocates for STEM, particularly in out of school time settings.  The video below and the following are robust resources to assist and guide STEM communications more effectively: The Power of Explanation: Reframing STEM and Informal LearningTelling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story: A Communications ToolkitHow to Speak STEM-ish

Key Statistics




The Condition of STEM Education 2015

STEM Learning Ecosystems: How Cross-Sector Collaboration can advance STEM Learning

South Carolina Coalition for Math & Sciences



Afterschool Tech Toolkit
This free resource from the National AfterSchool Association includes a series of modules, webinars, and hands-on training that will help afterschool professionals and educators plan and prepare to integrate technology into their programs. The toolkit is for those who lead or oversee out-of-school time programming in various settings including schools, community-based organizations, private organizations, churches, libraries, and homeless shelters.

June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month
This month is a good time to explore your local zoo and aquarium. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums provides a collection of links. Many of the websites have educational resources such as videos, wild life facts, lesson plans, and activities.

NCWIT: Enrich PK-8 Computing Education
This is a new resource from the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s (NCWIT). Student influencers such as formal and informal educators and parents are eager to direct students to viable education opportunities in computing. Consider these key points and resources that can be used to integrate computing skills into existing curricula, encourage diverse participation in computing, and/or connect students to informal learning environments that emphasize hands-on experience with technology.

Women in Hardware Video Series
This interview series covers some of the most inspiring women pioneering the hardware industry and promotes gender balance in tech. From groundbreaking entrepreneurs to engineers at the tops of their fields, the series highlights women who are inventing, innovating, and changing hardware for the better.

The Connectory – Find Summer Camps!
The Connectory is the go-to place to find STEM year-round and summer is the peak season. Many girl focused summer STEM opportunities are available. Search by location, dates, area of interest, and age group. Find an opportunity near you.


Coding for the Early Years

TechGirlz Sets STEM Outreach Goal: 20K by 2020

STEAM Universe – 3 Ways to Help Students Build Empathy with Technology

Afterschool STEM Hub


EiE: Engineering Adventures (Grades 3th-5th) and Engineering Everywhere (Grades 6th-8th)

Models (The Modeling Designs for Learning Science) 

Noyce Foundation

NBA Math Hoops


Science in Afterschool: literature review