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FINE Newsletter, Volume VII, Issue 2
Issue Topic: Engaging Students in Afterschool Learning

HFRP Research & Resources

Looking for innovative ways to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities for children outside of the classroom? The resources below include information on hands-on activities and advice from museums, libraries, and afterschool programs that community-based educators and families can use while exploring STEM with students. Although the resources can be used by all educators, they have been grouped into the following categories for ease of reading:

  • general resources;
  • resources for afterschool programs;
  • resources for librarians;
  • resources for families and mentors; and
  • resources for maker programs.


STEMfinity—Free STEM Resources
STEMfinity offers a variety of project-based resources targeted to students from Pre-K through High School who are learning STEM—from robotics, to 3-D printing, drone technology, alternative energy, and rocketry. This comprehensive virtual library of free online STEM resources can inspire both educators and families to investigate a range of STEM-related subjects outside of school. All the Best Science & Math Activities
This free online database of interactive STEM lessons and activities is designed for those working in informal learning settings—such as museums, zoos, and outdoor education programs—to use to bring STEM out of schools and into the wider world. The website gathers the best materials from the Web and encouraging educators across the country to both use and contribute to the growing collection.


Frontiers in Urban Science Exploration Resource Guide: Strategies to Advance Informal Stem Education in Expanded Learning Settings
Developed by The After-School Corporation (TASC) and Every Hour Counts, this resource guide offers strategies and lessons for promoting inquiry-based informal science learning and opportunities across the nation. Included are profiles of successful STEM initiatives, program curriculum and resources, evaluation models, and funding and partnership options.

Science After School (SAS)—Consumers Guide
SAS is a source for activities and resources that support great afterschool science learning. In this guide, find reviews of high-quality, hands-on science content for use in afterschool programs. Materials include semester and yearlong curricula, activity kits, instructor guides with related activities, and websites that offer content appropriate for afterschool programs.

Techbridge Family Guide—Science: It’s a Family Affair
Techbridge is an afterschool program that aims to expand the academic and career options for girls in science, technology, and engineering. The family guide, available in English, Chinese, and Spanish, offers advice to families about encouraging their children in science, as well as ideas for museum visits and hands-on activities to try as a family.


The Library as Incubator Project—Librarian Resources
Developed by a team of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies, this online forum aims to promote synergy between libraries and arts-based organizations through resource and idea sharing.

Teen Programs in a Box (TPiB) Programs
Designed by the staff of Teen Librarian Toolbox, this website offers a variety of prepackaged library programming ideas for adolescents that range from book-based to interactive and craft-based activities that are easily adaptable for use by teen librarians at other sites.

YALSA STEM Programming Toolkit
This downloadable toolkit, designed by a Young Adult Library Services Association task force committee, offers a comprehensive list of curriculum resources, successful STEM program profiles, and promising practices regarding how to integrate STEM activities and services for adolescents in library spaces.


PBS Parents—Science Tips for Parents
This site offers strategies and suggestions for families who want to explore science with their children after school and during the summer. Families can find science resources and tools that make for more extended investigation. They can also learn how children develop early science skills and how to nurture scientific growth at each age.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge—Mentor Resource Kit
This resource kit was assembled to give adult mentors a set of materials to help introduce young people (and by extension the mentors themselves) to game design. The kit contains: activity plans, game design tools and resources, game design workshops, and information on how to make learning games.

The Curiosity Machine
The Curiosity Machine is an online learning platform where a community of scientists, engineers, and children create together. Through different design challenges, students are inspired and equipped to create their own inventions with the support of trained and qualified mentors.


Maker Education Initiative—Resource Library
The Maker Education Initiative, formed in response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, has designed a handy online resource library. The site provides a variety of links that offer practical, concrete tips for integrating making into diverse educational settings, including afterschool clubs, youth makerspaces, school classrooms, museums, and libraries.

The Maker Movement in Education: Designing, Creating, and Learning Across Contexts
The process of making useful objects was an everyday activity in both schools and homes throughout the 20th century; and one that can support STEM learning in out-of-school time contexts. In the Winter 2014 issue of the Harvard Education Review, the authors explore the research behind the maker movement in education and provide case studies of effective makerspaces.

A Blueprint: Maker Programs for Youth
This resource guide from the New York Hall of Science provides instruction on how museums, libraries, and other nonschool educational institutions can develop maker programs that aim to balance free play and exploration of STEM concepts with structured activities and guided learning. The blueprint offers detailed advice for all stages of designing these learning spaces.

This resource guide was compiled by Harvard Graduate School of Education students Deepa Vasudevan and Babe Liberman.

This resource is part of the FINE Newsletter on Engaging Students in Afterschool Learning. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project