The Science Link program is a stimulating, innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) enrichment program offered to ASES expanded learning program students. Science Link advances the education and academic success of students in low-income communities in San Diego. Science Link provides active methods of discovery, creativity, experimentation, and a better understanding of the sciences. Historically, these students have not received high quality STEM education and have performed poorly on science and math achievement testing.
Science Link augments core curriculum by providing hands-on science lessons and experiments including DNA decoding, dissection, forensics, marine biology, genetics and engineering to capture students’ attention, imagination and provide quality science education. Science Link provides STEM related field trips to Legoland’s STEM Education program, Birch Aquarium, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Zoo, and the USS Midway Museum to introduce students to science related careers and local businesses by “linking” science professionals and science careers to low-income students. Students learn that they can excel at STEM careers and what it takes to further their education.
By weaving engaging and interactive STEM activities and projects into expanded learning programs, students are able to increase their STEM knowledge and skills, increase consideration in furthering their STEM education and increase their interest in STEM careers.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR HIGHER LEARNING
The Science Link Project is developed to prepare students for higher learning. According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the average score of fourth-grade students in California was 140 in 2015. This was lower than the average score of 153 for public school students in the nation. The average score for students in California for that year was not significantly different from their average score in 2009.
Little science is taught in California's elementary schools; in one recent survey, 80% of K-6 teachers reported spending 60 minutes or less per week on science; and 16% indicated they spend no time at all on science. Many schools are placing a strong focus on literacy for students and teacher trainings. In San Diego very few elementary teachers have strong science backgrounds or continued science training, and as a result, many students are never exposed to inquiry-based, hands-on science and ecology. The lack of science and math proficiency greatly hinders students' potential to succeed in higher education and fields of study such as technology, engineering and the sciences. The Children's Initiative currently provides training and technical assistance (in the areas of outcome evaluation, curriculum and program development, parent and community involvement, and businesses partnerships) to more than 300 after-school programs serving more than 41,000 children and youth. The Science Link Project will build upon this experience and existing relationships with schools and community partners to support the following measurable outcomes:
Increased academic accomplishment in science and math;
Increased access to quality science/ecology and environmental enrichment activities;
Increased connections among science/ecology and environmental based programs and businesses and after school programs; and
Documented satisfaction of parents, teachers, students and program partners with the Science Link Project.
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