After-School Science PLUS (AS+)
After-School Science PLUS (AS+) was developed by Educational Equity Concepts (EEC) with funding from the National Science Foundation Program for Gender Equity. It is an inquiry-based science program for use in afterschool centers serving students aged 6-14. The “PLUS” in this program includes diverse role models and career education materials as well as connections to literacy activities, all designed to expand student perception about who can do science.
AS+ includes eleven core activities that focus on inquiry-based science and literacy-through-science. It uses simple materials that are low-cost or free, readily available, and culturally familiar. The structure of AS+ is designed to have a strong equity focus:
- Provides positive role models of female and male scientists from diverse racial/ethnic groups
- Presents ideas about careers in science, math, and technology
- Dispels stereotypes about who can do science; and creates opportunities for students to see science as part of their everyday experiences
Target age group: 6-14 years old
Setting: Appropriate for all afterschool settings, with coed or single-sex groups
Time needed: Two-four hours per activity (11 activities in all)
Training: AS+ includes an Activity Guide and a Planning Guide that provides all the information a staff developer needs to conduct training to implement the program, including agendas, family outreach materials, and sample lesson plans. The information in the Planning Guide is based on the recognition that group leaders already know more science than they realize, so it is structured to reinforce confidence in their scientific abilities and interests. It includes training in:
- How to conduct inquiry-based science activities
- How to extend these activities for literacy programs
- Group management techniques
- Strategies for involving families
- Equity resources
Fee-for-service professional development is also available.
- AS+ Activity Guide and Planning Guide: $49.95 (additional Activity Guides available for 29.95)
- Activity Materials: low-cost, readily available
- Training: The basic cost for a full-day of training for 30-45 people, with follow up technical assistance via phone or webcasts, is $2,000, plus the cost of travel and materials. Flexible packages can be arranged based on the needs of the site.
Evaluation & Results
AS+ is an outgrowth of the standards-based Playtime is Science in-school curriculum, which was named a "Promising Program" by the Gender Equity Expert Panel of the U.S. Department of Education in 2001. A comprehensive evaluation using a pre-post design revealed that after participating in AS+ student attitudes about science became more positive and less stereotyped. Group leaders reported that as a result of AS+, participating students showed significant increases in:
- Thinking that science is fun
- Wanting to do more projects
- Understanding that science applies to everyone
- Having more opportunities for hands-on science
- Being more apt to say everyone does science
- Becoming more positive and not at all stereotyped about girls who do science.
Materials, Activities, & Sample Lessons
After-School Science PLUS: Hands-on Activities for Every Student is a two volume set containing an Activity Guide and a Planning Guide. The Activity Guide includes eleven core activities that focus on inquiry-based science and literacy-through-science, using simple materials that are low-cost or free, readily available, and culturally familiar. The Planning Guide provides instructions for professional development, resources, and family outreach materials in English and Spanish.
The activities are:
Who Does Science? Creates awareness of the stereotypes about who does science and expands students' vocabulary and view of scientists.
Oobleck: Solid or Liquid? Work with a mysterious mixture to explore liquid and solid properties of matter, using senses, hypothesizing, experimenting, inferring, measuring, observing and concluding.
Creating a Mystery Bottle: Learn about solubility, density, and miscible and immiscible liquids by combining oil, water, and food coloring in recycled plastic bottles and observing the results.
Sink and Float: Investigate displacement, density, and viscosity by predicting, experimenting, and observing which objects sink and which ones float in water and other liquids.
Bubble Science: Explore the concepts of surface tension and develop skills such as observing and model-making through experimenting with bubble-makers.
Making and Tossing Bean Bags: Experiment with concepts of acceleration, force, gravity, and spatial relations, and gain math skills such as estimation, measurement, sorting, and counting.
Building with Wonderful Junk: Develop planning, balancing, problem-solving, mathematical, spatial relations, and social skills through a construction activity using "recyclables" from home.
Ramps, Force and Motion: Explore and understand the relationship between incline, speed, and distance, and learn about spatial relations, graphing, collecting and recording data, predicting, inferring, and measuring.
Discovering How it Works: Gain direct hands-on experience with technology and the use of tools by assembling and disassembling simple safe machines.
Inventors: Use planning, creative-thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, communication skills, and creativity just like scientists to plan, create, and test an invention.
The Mystery Science Visitor: Share information about a future that involves science. In this "guessing game" activity, a science role model gives an idea of what she does in her work and how she became involved in the field.