As a way to broaden opportunities for student success, PASA is working in partnership with the Providence Public School District, teachers, community educators, youth, and other partners to link in-school and after-school learning as part of a citywide expanded learning initiative to help create a new day for learning.
As part of this effort, PASA and some of its key partners capitalized on the success of the AfterZone model and two previous summer programs and in 2010 launched the AfterZone Summer Scholars program – a refined and improved interdisciplinary model which blended deeper hands-on learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) blended with math and English language arts, targeted specifically for youth falling behind in these content areas. The below video highlights Providence’s emerging perspectives and practice of on middle school and high school learning, using footage from this summer’s successful efforts, sharing the perspective of the educators and staff involved.
Building on the success of the summer program, beginning in September, 2011, PASA piloted the AfterZone Scholars program, a partnership between school teachers providing additional targeted instruction after school blended with hands-on practice in one of several STEM learning programs led by community-based educators. Additionally, in the Fall of 2010 PASA convened a STEM Expanded Learning Time Learning Community consisting of representatives from 20 community-based STEM-learning organizations, more than 10 Providence middle school math and science teachers, and representatives from higher education institutions to define and deepen the key elements of standards-based inquiry-based STEM learning in out-of-classroom settings. Through these and additional professional development offered to AfterZone staff and providers, PASA also seeks to engender curriculum connections and practical connections between in-school and after-school educators to strengthen the expanded learning full-day model PASA is building in low-performing schools.
Programmatic elements of the successful 2010 AfterZone Summer Scholars Program included:
- 134 youth served for four weeks;
- Initial recruitment efforts focused on youth who tested just at or slightly below proficiency in math and English language arts;
- Four high-yield partnerships between:
- a high-quality community-based STEM educator from organizations with proven experience in STEM and working in PASA’s AfterZone model (Save the Bay, Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth, and the Museum of Natural History); and
- both a math and English language arts teacher from 4 middle schools where students are underperforming in math and science according to state test scores;
- 30 hours of joint preparation, including professional development, training sessions, and collaborative planning;
- Transportation to field sites at Riverside Park, the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium, the Bay Center at Save the Bay, Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, and design studios at Providence ¡CityArts!;
- Field trips to the fish ladder along the Woonasquatucket River, the waste dump and recycling facility at the RI Resource Recovery Center, parks in Providence and along Narragansett Bay, and other sites;
- A culminating exhibition day where youth showcased their learning through a final project and display (modeled on a typical science fair), and a parent and family showcase at each offsite location.