The National Partnerships for Afterschool Science [NPASS and NPASS2] is creating new, state-based cadres of professional Science Trainers who provide long-term training and technical assistance to afterschool programs in their state or region. Almost 1000 NPASS Science Trainers in nine collaborating states are leading science workshops for groups of afterschool sites about once a month through the school year and summer. Over 500 NPASS afterschool locations in those nine states delivered regular hands-on, minds-on science and engineering projects mostly for elementary-age students, but there is also a significant participation of middle and high school students in some states.
NPASS trainers and afterschool science leaders are supported by the existing afterschool professional development infrastructure in each state. In collaboration with these state partners, NPASS2 is steadily building towards its mission to make high quality afterschool science available to student in under resourced communities in all the states. NPASS is demonstrating the benefits and necessity of intense and continuous training to achieve ongoing high quality science programming. It has shown that the afterschool field is ready, and has the capacity, to grow a new stratum of out of school time workers who are accomplished and effective informal science leaders.
The primary stake-holders in the NPASS network are:
- NPASS2 State Leaders support training and programming in their state over the three years of this NSF funded project.
- NPASS2 Science Trainers attend twice annual Train-the-Trainer Institutes in their state and lead six workshops per year for afterschool staff in their city or county. An extensive Guide to Professional Development of Out-of-School Activity Leaders is available for download here.
- Afterschool Agencies commit to sending staff and administrators to roughly monthly NPASS workshops six times each year. They also commit to providing space and facilities and a dedicated spot in their weekly schedule for NPASS projects at least once per week throughout the school year.
- Students from elementary, middle and high schools level afterschool programs sign up for a “science club” that meets on a regular weekly schedule with a consistent, trained staff person or youth worker. Dropping in or out of the program during a curriculum project is discouraged.
- NPASS2 curriculum use simple and inexpensive materials. To find out more on each curriculum title and its implementation, click Design-It! and Explore-It! on this site.
NPASS has trained over 100 Science Trainers in CA, CT, KS, KY, MD, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, RI and TX. Current partners in the NPASS2 program include
- California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC) in San Francisco, California
- Kansas Enrichment Network (KEN) in Lawrence, Kansas
- Kentucky Out of School Alliance (KYOSA) in Frankfort, Kentucky
- Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MNSACA) in St. Paul, Minnesota
- Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN) in Columbia, Missouri
- Ohio Child Care Resource & Referral Association (OCCRRA/OAN) in Columbus, Ohio
- Rutgers University Extension in New Brunswick, New Jersey
- The After-School Institute (TASI) in Baltimore, Maryland
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension in Durham, New Hampshire
How NPASS2 Works
The NPASS2 professional development model is demonstrating the benefits of intense and continuous training and programming, and that the afterschool field can grow a new stratum of accomplished and effective informal science leaders.We know that occasional or ad hoc training has little impact on teaching practice: and we know that “drop-in” exposure to project-based science has little impact on student engagement or learning outcomes. Recent research has found that the greatest impact comes after 30 or more hours of exposure to a new approach or program.
NPASS Science Trainers. About 100 experienced afterschool educators from nine states attend twice annual three-day Science Trainer Institutes in their state. At each Instituteshe the trainers are coached by EDC statff on how to train afterschool staff in their city or county to lead three new curriculum projects with children. The Institutes also focus on incorporating best practices for both Youth Development and Informal Science principles in all the training and implementation with children. NPASS Science Trainers recieve about 60 hours per year of training and direct practice.
Afterschool youth workers and administrators from a cluster of 5 – 10 afterschool sites in a county or city are matched with each NPASS Science Trainer. Every month (roughly) the Trainer leads a half-day workshop to introduce one new science or engineering project and prepare the afterschool staff to lead it confidently and skillfully with children. Each workshop also afterschool highlights strategies to promote problem solving, critical thinking and science process skills. NPASS afterschoool staff and youth workers recieve about 50 hours per year of training and direct practice.
Children from over 500 NPASS afterschool agencies in nine states – are now participating in extended hands-on, minds-on science and engineering projects on a weekly basis throughout the school year — and in some cases during the summer also. Students commit to each curriculum project in its entirety – since we know that dropping in and out reduces the benefits of completing each project as a group. A majority of students return for multiple NPASS projects. Students who stay with NPASS programming for a whole year spend between 25 - 30 hours engaging in exploration, critical thinking and problem solving.
Evaluators and other Partners
The formative and summative evaluation plans being implemented by Goodman Research Group, Inc. (GRG) in Cambridge, MA are designed to identify the implementation factors that contribute most to the ability of NPASS2 and state-based afterschool networks to increase the quality and quantity of project-based science delivered in afterschool programs.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0917576. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).