A project of the Afterschool Alliance.

The Impact of Afterschool STEM: STEM 3D

Year Published: 2016

STEM 3D: Integrating Science Afterschool, a project of The Franklin Institute, engages underserved youth and families in year-round STEM learning and career awareness through a combination of afterschool, home and community activities. In this selection of evaluation data from the 2014-2015 school year, participants demonstrated gains along three major categories of youth outcomes—interest in STEM, capacity to engage in STEM, and finding value in STEM.

Program Name: STEM 3D: Integrating Science Afterschool

Program Description: STEM 3D: Integrating Science Afterschool is a project of The Franklin Institute, and its goal is to engage underserved youth and families in year-round STEM learning and career awareness through a combination of afterschool, home and community activities. In partnership with city-funded out-of-school time programs, The Franklin Institute supports afterschool facilitators in order to impact children’s sense of identity in STEM and to identify ways in which underrepresented groups come to understand, value and promote STEM content and careers.

Scope of the Evaluation: Local

Program Type: Afterschool

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Community Type: Urban

Grade level: Elementary School

Program Demographics: 50 percent girls, 41 percent Asian / Pacific Islander, 40 percent African American, 15 percent Latino, 4 percent Caucasian, 35 percent speak a language other than English at home.

Program Website: https://www.fi.edu/stem-3d-integrating-science-afterschool

Evaluator: Creative Research & Evaluation, LLC

Evaluation Methods: Evaluation data are collected through structured site visits, facilitator interviews and surveys. STEM 3D uses the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency (PEAR) at Harvard University’s Common Instrument to measure STEM interest and engagement, and the Holistic Student Assessment to assess 21st century skills.

Evaluation Type: Non-experimental

Below is a selection of evaluation data reported by the program around three major categories of youth outcomes—interest in STEM, capacity to productively engage in STEM, and finding value in STEM. These outcomes are an excerpt from a 2016 Afterschool Alliance paper, "The Impact of Afterschool STEM: Examples from the Field."

Interest: I like to do this
  • Youth show statistically significant growth in science engagement through agreeing strongly to statements such as: "I like to participate in science projects" and "I get excited about learning about new discoveries or inventions."
  • Participants reported feeling significantly more interested in STEM content and skills in response to prompts such as "I am curious to learn more about science, computers, or technology" and " I want to understand science (for example, to know how computers work, how rain forms or how airplanes fly)."

Capacity: I can do this

  • Participants reported statistically significant gains in perseverance and critical thinking, as well as gains in their relationships with adults and other youth (only two out of three program sites administered this assessment).
  • In all three sites, there was a significant correlation for individual students between gains in 21st century learning skills and gains in STEM interest and engagement.

Value: This is important to me

  • STEM 3D project-based learning units incorporate real-world problems, such as creating models for flood-proof buildings or identifying how humans can help rebuild habitats for endangered species. After participation, youth reported being more interested in the statement "I pay attention when people talk about recycling to protect our environment."
  • Participation led to an increased understanding and awareness of STEM careers. The units emphasize careers by allowing students to investigate and embody science careers throughout explorations of science concepts.