Million girls moonshot
Louisiana Tech University and the Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning (LACAL) are proud to be a part of the Million Girls Moonshot initiative, working to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls in STEM learning opportunities through after-school and summer programs over the next five years.
The Million Girls Moonshot will not only allow girls to envision themselves as future innovators, it will also increase the quality of out-of-school STEM learning opportunities for all young people, particularly underserved and underrepresented youth.
The Moonshot is designed to spur girls’ interest, understanding, and confidence in STEM and equip them to become problem solvers with an engineering mindset. Led nationally by the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in partnership with the Intel Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Million Girls Moonshot:
- Leverages afterschool networks in all 50 states to help school-age girls access high-quality STEM education, support, and mentors.
- Uses an equity and inclusion framework that is youth-centric and culturally responsiveto increase gender, and racial and socio-economic diversity in STEM.
- Provides resources, support, mentorship, and expert guidance to help educators deliver hands-on STEM experiences in after-school, out-of-school time, and summer-learning programs.
The Million Girls Moonshot provides a wide range of free training opportunities andwebinars led by Moonshot implementation partners, researchers, and practitioners toshare effective strategies, best practices, and resources to engage more girls in STEM andengineering. Webinars also enable participants from across the country to connect, collaborate, and learn from one another.
Impact of STEM programs
After-school programs play a major role in providing meaningful science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning experiences to diverse groups of youth. These subjects help students succeed in school and prepare them for careers that are driving global economic growth.
Nationwide, states and schools are engaging diverse partners like after-school programs, libraries, museums, universities, and businesses to ensure that students have access to high-quality STEM education. By fully utilizing the hours outside of school, and taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to maximize collective impact, we can ensure that our students are prepared for the future. After-school and summer programs spark learning and ignite interest by letting youth experiment with STEM ideas in real-world situations.
Afterschool STEM offers unique benefits including:
- Extra exposure: Children spend less than 20 percent of their waking hours in school. After-school STEM can almost double the amount of time some students have to question, tinker, learn, and explore STEM topics.
- Change of scene: After-school STEM engages students in hands-on, real-world projects. These programs offer innovative ways for students to practice STEM skills in an informal space. This makes STEM more accessible, more interesting, and helps to build fluency, much like immersing oneself in a new language.
- A chance to follow their spark: High-quality after-school STEM cultivates interest, builds real STEM skills, and helps students connect STEM to their lives and communities.
- Opportunity for all: The wealthiest 20 percent of families spend almost seven times more on enrichment activities outside school for their children than do the poorest 20 percent. After-school STEM helps to close this gap by offering engaging learning programs to a diverse range of students.
Questions and Answers
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. But STEM educationis far more than just sticking those subject titles together. It’s a philosophy of education that embraces teaching skills and subjects in a way that resembles real life.
Why is STEM important?
Getting more young people engaged in STEM is essential in part because jobs in STEM continue to grow at rates double those of non-STEM professions. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects STEM occupations to grow by 8 percent between 2019 and 2029, compared to 3.4 percent for non-STEM occupations. Wages for STEM occupations are also much higher than for non-STEM occupations, meaning they provide financial security to individuals from all backgrounds and a pathway to financial independence for students from low-income communities.
Providing greater opportunities for STEM learning isn’t just about preparing the future workforce. As our world continues to rely more and more on technology, we all require a greater level of STEM literacy and fluency to understand how science and technology play a role. Greater STEM literacy also helps prepare students to better understand challenges and issues that affect them and their communities.
Why offer STEM in after-school programs?
K-12 students spend just 20 percent of their 16 waking hours in school. More than 80 percent of their time is spent learning outside of school — at after-school and summer programs, in libraries, museums, science centers, or at home or in the community.
All students need opportunities to engage in quality STEM learning experiences. These can take place across different informal environments, but over the last decade, after-school programs have become a cornerstone in providing STEM learning for students from all backgrounds in all regions of the country. After-school and summer programs provide hands-on learning opportunities and a natural space for students to explore, learn, and grow. These programs spark students’ interest in STEM and computer science subjects, expose them to future careers, and support school-day learning, all while developing a new generation of problem solvers.
Whether piloting the next crewed mission to the Moon or helping solve the greatest challenges facing our country and world, students in after-school programs today will soon be on the front lines, in the labs developing solutions, and applying their STEM knowledge to make informed decisions about the world around them. Working together with schools, businesses, community organizations, and informal science institutions, after-school programs can help equip all young people to play a role in addressing our most pressing issues.
How does STEM stack up in Louisiana?
According to the America After 3PM survey, 84,686 Louisiana children participate in an after-school program and 65,224 children have opportunities to participate in STEM learning in those programs.
Louisiana parents value STEM learning in after-school and summer programs:
- 75 percent of parents agree that STEM learning in after-school programs helps kids gain interest and skills related to STEM
- 66 percent of parents report that STEM and computer science are an important factor when selecting their child’s after-school program
- 77 percent of parents report that their child’s after-school program offers STEM learning opportunities