The South Dakota Afterschool Network works to better our state and its communities by connecting providers, parents and policymakers with proven tools and resources to increase the quality of and access to out-of-school time programming for K-12 children and youth.

Afterschool is a lifeline that keeps youth safe, helps kids learn and grow, and provides parents the ability to work without worry. While South Dakota is home to more than 300 afterschool programs, the demand for programs exceeds available spaces. In fact, 1 in 3 South Dakota children (34 percent) who are not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if it were available. That’s more than 42,000 children who are missing out on opportunities to participate in programming that supports their development academically, socially and economically.

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Afterschool can provide valuable opportunities for students to explore STEM, and we are here to help your program succeed in STEM Learning! From webinars and trainings to our signature TMC Trailers that bring turnkey STEM activities to your doorstep, our diverse collection of resources meets you and your students where you are and provides the support you need to deliver quality programming to your students at any age. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network wanted to create a mapping tool to better understand the landscape of afterschool and summer programs available for children and families. From the initial launch of the new mapping tool, we have identified some startling findings.

Activities & Resources for Programs – May

Activities

Activity (engineering)How Does a Wind Meter Work? | Science Project (sciencebuddies.org) On a windy day it is hard to keep your hat on! The power of the wind can even be strong enough to power large wind turbines to make electricity! In this experiment, find out how you can make your own instrument to measure the speed and power of the wind. How does it work?

Activity (engineering)Tallest Paper Tower Challenge | Science Project (sciencebuddies.org) In this engineering challenge, you will use limited materials to build a paper tower as tall as possible, but there’s a twist! Your tower must also support a heavy weight at the top without collapsing. Looking for inspiration? You can see how other students have tackled this and other annual Science Buddies Engineering Challenges.

Activity (engineering): How to Build a Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car – Left Brain Craft Brain This project is a perfect opportunity to learn about simple machines: the building blocks of all things that move. The activity uses easy to find materials and can be done in class and easily repeated at home.

Activity(engineering): Turn Milk into Plastic | STEM Activity (sciencebuddies.org) Until about 1945, milk was commonly used to make many different plastic ornaments, including buttons, decorative buckles, beads and other jewelry, and many other items. Milk plastic (usually called casein plastic) was even used to make jewelry for Queen Mary of England! In this activity students will make their own casein plastic out of hot milk and vinegar.

Activity (math): Devising an Algorithm for Solving Rubik’s Cube | Science Project (sciencebuddies.org) This activity shows youth three sets of move sequences that accomplish specific rearrangements of the cube. Is there a way to solve the cube using only these three move sequences?

Activity (Computer science): Can Humans Recognize ChatGPT’s AI-Generated Text? | Science Project (sciencebuddies.org) AI (artificial intelligence)-generated text is a hot topic for many reasons. Computers can now generate convincing paragraphs or even pages of text that look like they were written by a human. How do you know if a news article you are reading was written by a human or an AI? How does a teacher know if a student’s essay was written by an AI? How do you know this text was not written by an AI? In this science project, you will conduct an experiment to see if volunteers can correctly identify whether different passages of text were written by a human or AI.

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Click on the links below to access curated mini units of STEM-based curriculum from SDAN.

Activity Guide: Getting Electric

Activity Guide: Inside My Body

Activity Guide: Building Great Structures

Activity Guide: Harnessing Air 

Activity Guide: City Build 2040

Activity Guide: Star Wars

Activity Resources: Native American Heritage Resources

Activity Resources: Spooky Science Resources

Resources

Girl Scouts New STEM Playbook!

The world of STEM is filled with endless opportunities to make a difference. From exploring computer coding and space exploration to building robots and solutions to problems such as climate change, girls are using STEM as a tool to change our world.

And you can help them make it all possible! Girl Scouts’ new STEM Playbook is designed for anyone looking to encourage a love of STEM in girls of all ages. Whether you’re involved with Girl Scouts or simply a supportive adult, the new STEM Playbook offers ideas, guidance, and access to resources and tools to grow girls’ interest and skills in the field. Download the new STEM Playbook and discover new ideas to help girls build the future with STEM. Download Girl Scouts’ New STEM Playbook Here

Transformative Practices

The Million Girls Moonshot aims to raise awareness of the following four research-based practices — Equity and Inclusion, Engineering Mindsets, Role Model, Mentors, and Families, and STEM Pathways and Transition — proven to remove barriers to access and quality STEM learning experiences. Resources, toolkits, blogs, and activities that elevate these four Transformative Practices can be found below and on the Million Girls Moonshot Toolkit

  • Equity and Inclusion

    • Access to STEM Framework: To improve the overall quality of out-of-school STEM programs, we need to address how program providers design and implement programming to increase access in STEM for youth who have been underrepresented in the STEM fields. Partnering with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) and national experts, we have developed an Access to STEM Framework — a guide for supporting program providers in this transformation. Download the Framework.
    • Elevating Youth Voice in STEM Programming Webinar: One way to ensure your program is youth-centric is to elevate youth voice and empower youth to take charge of their own STEM experiences. In this webinar recording, presenters share their knowledge and first-hand experiences promoting or using their voices and developing leadership skills to support and promote STEM learning in their communities.
    • Cultural Competence in Afterschool Programs: A chapter on how programs address the increasing and cultural diversity in the United States. Program leaders need to consider how to adapt their program to make it culturally relevant to the youth and families they serve. This chapter explores the meaning of cultural relevance, how to design cultural competence afterschool programs, and how to tailor cultural competence to meet local needs. 

    Engineering Mindsets

    • Engineering Mindset Overview: An engineering mindset refers to the attitudes and thinking skills associated with engineering — using a systematic engineering design process, considering real-world problems, applying math and science, and working in teams. The Moonshot focuses on 10 engineering practices. An overview of each practice follows and subsequent briefs will explore each one individually.
    • Engineering Design Process: This resource helps educators understand design process and how to facilitate engineering activities with kids 

    Role Models, Mentors, and Families

    Role models, mentors, and family engagement in a young person’s STEM education leads to increased interest, greater self-confidence, and ultimately a stronger STEM identity. Developing a science-related identity increases the likelihood that students will work toward developing science literacy, or even pursue a career in a science or STEM-related field.

    Continuous STEM Learning Pathways

    Research tells us that continuous engagement and exposure rather than limited one-time opportunities are needed to nurture the interest and motivation necessary for children to pursue STEM pathways long term. The Moonshot aims to understand and support transitions and handoffs that remove barriers for youth by connecting STEM learning across ages and settings, ensuring youth interest and motivation persists.

    • Possible Futures — Career Exploration Curriculum: Open source curriculum that complements and enriches both school and afterschool settings 1) expanding career awareness through authentic experiential learning opportunities; 2) encouraging students to explore their diverse interests, talents, and options; 3) enlivening STEM subjects by bringing in real-world and career contexts; 4) empowering students to develop vital employability skills; and 5) engaging students in making informed choices.

    Below are some adaptations of the Possible Futures Career Exploration Curriculum specifically for afterschool and summer programs:

    • Career Foundations Adaptation: A collection of 14 lessons, a streamlined combination of the Lenses on the Future and Skills for Success units of Possible Futures curriculum.
    • College and Career Readiness Toolkit: Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) embedded the Career Foundations Unit of Possible Futures into this toolkit that serves as a guide for OST providers.

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