July 28, 2009
"Duke University computer scientist Susan Rodger is hoping ice skaters, cute animals and fearsome dragons will bring new talent to her field. With support from the National Science Foundation, she and collaborators nationwide are using the power of storytelling to draw younger students into programming. An animation program called 'Alice,' invented by the late Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University, allows student programmers of all ages to create their own worlds without realizing they're actually writing code."
Incidentally, this software is among the resources the YouthLearn team included in the Technology Curriculum Guide we developed for SEDL's National Center for Quality Afterschool.
"Rodger recalled the rush of introducing fourth-to-sixth graders to Alice during an annual event that brings elementary school girls to the Duke campus to meet with female professors.
'They learned Alice for half an hour, and then they got to create a world with it,' Rodger said... They were creating little stories with Alice, and in the process they were programming. They didn't know they were doing programming, but they were.'"
July 13, 2009
Writing in Salon.com, authors Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum assert: Science "is simultaneously admired and yet viewed as dangerously powerful and slightly malevolent — an uneasiness that comes across repeatedly in Hollywood depictions. As science-fiction film director James Cameron ('Aliens,' 'Terminator,' 'Titanic') has observed, the movies tend to depict scientists 'as idiosyncratic nerds or actively the villains.' That's not only unfair to scientists: It's unhealthy for the place of science in our culture — no small matter at a time of climate crisis, bioweapon threats, pandemic diseases and untold future controversies that will surely erupt as science continues to dramatically change our world and our politics. To begin to counter this problem, though, we need to wake up to a new recognition: Fixing the problem of science education in our schools, although very important, is not the sole solution. We also have to do something about the cultural standing of science — heavily influenced by politics and mass media — and that's a very different matter.
There can be little serious doubt that entertainment depictions have consequences. Entertainment industry expert Marty Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, perhaps puts it best when he describes Hollywood films as the 'unofficial curriculum of society.'"URL: http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2009/07/13/science_illiteracy
According to the Afterschool Alliance, a "recent survey of afterschool programs finds that afterschool programs are serving a high need population, struggling to maintain their funding and are worried about how the recession will affect future funding. Nearly all respondents to this web-based survey say that more children in their communities could benefit from afterschool programs, if programs were available. 69 percent report that funding is less than secure for the next 1 to 2 years and 83 percent report funding is not secure for next 3 to 5 years."
You can link to:
Summary of Findings
News Release on National Findings
Rural Afterschool Programs Key Findings
Also, see State by State Fact Sheets.URL: http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/UncertainTimes2009.cfm
"The CVS Caremark Community Grants program provides support to community organizations and public schools in states where CVS stores are located.
The 2009 Community Grants program is focused on a few key areas. The program will award funds to nonprofit organizations working to provide disabled children and youth (under age 21) with health and rehabilitation services and/or programs that enable and encourage physical movement and play. The program will also award grants to public schools that promote a greater level of inclusion in student activities and extracurricular programs for children with disabilities.... Qualifying organizations are eligible for grants of up to $5,000 each."
Deadline: October 31, 2009URL: http://info.cvscaremark.com/community/our-impact/community-grants
Referred by: Foundation Center
"Youth Speak Out: Engaging in Democracy and Grasping Opportunity - Raise Your Voice, Share Your Ideas, and Get Involved in Democracy!
The World Youth Movement for Democracy, a youth network of the World Movement for Democracy, is pleased to announce the launch of its Global Essay Contest. Fifteen winners (3 in each region: Asia, Central/Eastern Europe & Eurasia, Middle East & North Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa) will be invited to participate in the upcoming 6th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Jakarta, Indonesia, in April 2010.
Please submit your essay by 15 September 2009 via email attachment as a Word document or a PDF.... Essays can be submitted in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish, and the essay must be no more than 2,000 words. Authors must be between 18 and 30 years old."URL: http://www.wymd.org/contest/contests.html
Looking for engaging activities to use in your summer program? Or planning ahead for your afterschool program this fall? The Afterschool Training Toolkit at SEDL's National Center for Quality Afterschool features lesson ideas in Literacy, Math, Science, Arts, Technology, etc. Lessons span various age groups, and are organized around different promising practices in each content area, such as Expressing Yourself through the Arts, or Investigating Science through Inquiry. Follow this link to the Sample Lessons Index.URL: http://www.sedl.org/afterschool/toolkits/sample_lessons.html
"In a new study from Johns Hopkins University, researchers pinpoint the time in middle school when students can be seen to have 'fallen off the path to high school graduation.' The study sought high-yield indicators that identified students who, absent intervention, would have low odds of graduating and identified at least 25 percent of future non-graduates or dropouts. The report found that sixth graders who failed math or English/reading, or attended school less than 80 percent of the time, or received an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a core course, had a 10- to 20-percent chance of graduating on time.... The study found middle-grade experiences 'have tremendous impact on the extent to which [students] will close achievement gaps, graduate from high school, and be prepared for college,' the authors write. The fifth through eighth grades must therefore be reconceptualized, considered 'the launching pad for a secondary and post-secondary education system that enables all students to obtain the schooling and/or career training they will need to fully experience the opportunities of 21st century America.'"URL: http://www.nmsa.org/portals/0/pdf/research/Research_from_the_Field/Policy_Brief_Balfanz.pdf
Referred by: PEN Weekly NewsBlast