STEM Updates and Announcements for March

Complete STEM Survey, You Could Win Bridge Conference Registration

Do you bring STEM into everything you do with youth, or avoid all things STEM? Maybe you love the “T”, but fear the “M”? We want to hear from you about current practices, future hopes, and / or persistent challenges around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in your program. Please take a few minutes to complete our STEM survey. Complete the survey by March 31 to be entered into a drawing for a FREE REGISTRATION to the Bridge Conference.

Take Survey

Pi Day – How are you celebrating?


Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. This year’s Pi Day will be EπC  (EPIC) because the date will be 3/14/15. Celebrate at 9:26:53 for bonus points! Traditional celebrations include fun math games with circles, eating all kinds of pies (including pizza pie), and Einstein lookalike contests (Einstein’s birthday also happens to be March 14th).

For lots of activity ideas, links to videos, and to order pi day t-shirts, visit

If you have a celebration planned, we would love to hear about it / see photos! Send those, or any questions about the day to Krista at

Partner Workshops

Using Your Outdoor Classroom and Choosing Effective Indoor and Outdoor Materials workshops

When:  Wednesday, April 8, 2015 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where:  Bright Horizons at Center Point | Kent, WA
How to Register:  Sign up by April 1
STARS: 3 Hours

Space is limited, so we invite you to register today—and, please feel free to forward this email to any friends, colleagues, or family members who would benefit from our workshop! Thank you, The Nature Explore Team

Engaging Youth in STEM with SciGirls! A PNWGCP Professional Development Forum

Seattle, WA; April 25, 2015; 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Participants will learn the latest research for exciting and engaging girls (and boys) in STEM; experience hands-on STEM activities; and gain access to free materials for hands-on, video-enhanced activities that put a creative twist on teaching STEM.


State Legislative Session Starts to Get Interesting

The 2015 Washington State Legislative Session is past its half way point. Now that many bills have either died or are making their way through the legislative process, the budget will become the major focus. The House should be releasing its budget the week of March 23rd and the Senate shortly thereafter. Negotiations between the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office will then begin with the main debates focusing on how to fund education in light of the Supreme Court McCleary decision, the need for additional revenue, and/or what programs to cut if there is not enough revenue to balance the budget.

While most of the debate will focus on the regular school day, there are some pieces of legislation affecting ELOs at the state level:

  • The first two bills are almost identical and are known as the Early Start Act (House Bill 1491/Senate Bill 5452). While these bills mostly affect the state’s early learning quality rating improvement system known as Early Achievers, there is also language in the bill that calls on the Department of Early Learning to develop an Early Achievers pilot for school-age programs. Should this bill pass, many opportunities and benefits available to early learning (birth to age 5) providers such as consistent funding and professional development will be available for school-age programs as well.
  • The third bill is the Academic, Innovation, and Mentoring Program (AIM) (House Bill 5303). This bill would provide funding to expanded learning programs to help them find mentors in many high-demand professions, such as health care and technology. These mentors can show youth a pathway to a career that they may not have thought was possible for them. We are working on tweaking the language to make sure that both small and large programs can benefit from AIM.

Write your legislators now to let them know you support these bills. Action only happens when you raise your voice to be heard!

One World Now! Get Global Conference Coming April 25

On April 25, 2015, OneWorld Now! is hosting their 10th Annual Get Global Conference for high school youth in Seattle. Student-planned and student-led, Get Global is designed to empower youth to take action on important global issues. Students will present dynamic workshops and inspiring speeches to foster meaningful and intentional dialogue about the intersection of social justice issues, global issues, and the role of youth. For more information, visit

At the heart of international education is the goal of meaningfully engaging students in global issues, a daunting task when faced with the competing interests on high school students’ minds: SATs, college applications, and who to ask to homecoming. For well over a decade, OneWorld Now! has used world languages, experiential leadership workshops, and study abroad to bring the world to Seattle high-school students, draw their attention to global issues, and inspire them to take action for positive change.

How you can engage youth in global issues

Connect with Peers Abroad

Online learning and social media have exponentially increased our ability to connect at a moment’s notice with people around the world. Building online peer-to-peer exchanges with schools and programs around the world is a sure way to peak youths’ interest in global issues.

Tie the Personal to the Global

While OneWorld Now! mentors students for the annual youth-led Get Global Conference, students are asked to consider “what matters to you and why” before settling on a workshop or speech topic. The most compelling workshops and youth speeches are delivered by students who deeply care and are somehow connected to the issue at hand.

Make it Experiential

Experiential learning has a powerful tie to developing empathy. In the context of global issues, the closer a student can be drawn into the reality of a current event, the more compelled they become to seek further understanding and options for action.

Cultivate a Sense of Interdependence

American youth need the support of Chinese youth, just as youth in China need the support of youth in the Middle East. Youth are more inclined to follow global issues and step up to act in favor of their peers around the world when they understand the interconnectedness of our globalized world.

As educators and youth workers, we want young people to establish the knowledge and skills necessary to act responsibly when dealing with complex international issues. Engaging them in global issues today is the first step towards mentoring our youth to become the global leaders of tomorrow.

For more information about the conference, contact Kirstin Rogers by email or at (206) 499-9636.

“Goodbye” from SOWA’s Retiring Janet Schmidt

Please join all of us at School’s Out in wishing Janet Schmidt, our Chief Program & Policy Officer, a happy retirement! While we are so sad to see Janet go after lending us her passion for twenty-two years, she promises to continue supporting the work of School’s Out and the important work of afterschool and youth development programs across the state. We may be bidding farewell for now, but we know that Janet will stay connected to School’s Out and our statewide community for years to come.

Here are some words from Janet to all of you across Washington who have been a part of her journey here at School’s Out.


Janet Schmidt

After twenty-two years of service to children and youth at School’s Out Washington, I have decided to retire. As all of you know, School’s Out Washington is a very special organization with a great mission delivering critical services in communities across the state. School’s Out has been the very fabric of my being for the past twenty-two years. I am proud of the role that I was able to play in establishing School’s Out as a leading advocacy organization, resulting in significant policy, funding opportunities, and greater public awareness around the important role that afterschool and youth development programs play in supporting student success. Through the Washington Afterschool Network, School’s Out is recognized as a leader across the country in both the policy and quality arenas. School’s Out has always led the way in innovation and I am honored to have been a part of this effort.

I have been truly blessed to support School’s Out as it transitioned to a strong and vibrant nonprofit organization. These past few years in particular have been an amazing learning experience for me and I am proud of my role in creating some strong foundational systems as we became a 501c3. The organization is well positioned to grow within the field of afterschool and youth development in Washington and the nation. There is a strong team of competent professionals ready to tackle new challenges and strong systems in place to support the sustainability of the organization.

I will work tirelessly through my final day on April 30th to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. It has been an honor and pleasure working with you over the years. I hope that all of you will continue as champions of afterschool and youth development programs.

Voices from the Field: Reflections on Summer Program Planning

With summer approaching fast, now is the time to start planning for summer programs.  With this in mind, SOWA’s Clifford Armstrong III sat down with Siobhan Whalen, Youth Program Manager at the Coalition for Refugees from Burma, to learn about what inspires her as a youth worker, her thoughts on summer planning, and working with a diverse group of youth and families.

Siobhan with her youth

Siobhan (center, front) with the youth of the Coalition for Refugees from Burma

What did Coalition for Refugees from Burma (CRB) do for Summer Programming last summer?

Last summer, we had two summer programs.  One was in partnership with East African Community Services in Seattle.  We helped them with some of the organizing.  They had a curriculum that they used the year prior, and we were able to help with outreach, connecting them with youth in Seattle Public Schools who were not able to access SPS’ summer programs.  That program with EACS was for K-5.

In Kent, we partnered with Kent-Meridian High School to put on, we called it GOAL (Global awareness and local Outreach for Academic Learning).  That program was focused on secondary school-aged youth.  Kent-Meridian has their own secondary school program for students that are new to the US or low English language learner level.  So they would go to school in the morning, then in the afternoon we would provide an enrichment component for about two hours after they finished their summer school day.


When did you start planning for summer?

That’s a great question!  Planning for summer is kind of always in the back of your mind as a youth program manager or coordinator.  And if you’re working with youth you’re always looking forward to summer.  One thing I really like about summer programming is that students, especially high school students, are much less stressed.  During the school year, you’re competing with homework and high school projects, tests and standardized testing and there’s just so much white noise out there in their lives that you have to work with.  In summer, there’s just so much more freedom to really push students in things they might not have otherwise had access to and you can be a little more creative.  So I love summer programming and I think about it all the time.  I would say for last year, we really began mapping out the logistics of things around this time (the beginning of March).  This is when we really kick it into high gear.


So, from last year’s summer program, and you kind of have two to pick from, what are you most proud of?

So most proud of…our Kent program, I really have a soft spot for.  It’s something that I’ve created and it’s my baby and I love it very much and I love our students there a lot.  So I think the thing I’m most proud, well I have two.  The first was we went to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year.  It was a part of our unit on social entrepreneurship.  Our students got to look at some of the inventions that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are funding and some of the innovative things that people their age are doing, and other social entrepreneurs are doing all over the world.  So that was really cool.  They were also charged to create a solution for a global or local problem and they came up with some really creative ideas.  One was to match older students that are refugees or immigrants with newly arrived students and have a mentorship program.  That was really smart.  Another they had, their problem was access to medical information in native languages.  So they came up with this idea of having people in the library who could interpret and help people understand their prescriptions and doctor forms and things.  And I thought that was really smart too.

Then the second thing I’m proud of, at the very end of the program, the students organized a showcase.  Each week of the summer program covers a different topic and at the end, they worked in groups to highlight what they learned in each of the different weeks.  They did a whole range of things, but one group of students wrote some haikus and then put music to the haikus.  So they sang these beautiful haiku songs and it was so cool because they did everything.  They designed the menus, they came up with who was going to say what and when.  I was really proud of how hard they worked and it came out really beautiful.


What was the most challenging aspect?

I think the most challenging aspect with any summer program is logistical.  It’s making sure that you do outreach and making sure that everything is running smoothly and on-time.  The logistical things you might otherwise not think of.


What was the feedback you received from the youth and their families?

They really liked the week with the haikus.  We had an assistant instructor from Highline Community College come and talk to students about different forms of expression.  He’s a theater instructor, so he brought some improv games that the students did. The second day he taught the haikus.  All of the students enjoyed his kind of teaching style and have since asked me “Where is that guy?  Is he ever coming back?”  So I think they really enjoyed his portion.  The students (from Kent) always love the opportunity to go to Seattle.  I think the trip to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was really profound for a lot of the students because they got to see, there were some exhibits in the visitor’s center that students recognized as things that they had experienced in either their home countries or in the camps or areas they came from before.  So that was something that a lot of students were chatting about on the way home and throughout the rest of the program.  Like, “Hey remember that thing that we saw…”  That kind of thing.


What impact, has professional development of staff had on the summer program?

It’s definitely had an impact.  I’ve attended a couple of different professional development opportunities about global competency and also around 21st century skills and project-based learning.  Professional development provided by Seattle University, I believe they partnered with Facing the Future, they did a couple trainings a year ago that I attended.  And then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did one on Global Competency and Project Based Learning, which was really incredible.  And School’s Out Washington’s Bridge Conference, as always. I love going to the Bridge Conference because it always gives me great ideas and people to get back in touch with later on.  Shout out to Bridge!


What is something about CRB’s youth that I, and anyone who listens to or reads this should know?

I think that our youth are incredible human beings, and a lot of times there are assumptions made about their backgrounds or their intelligence or their commitment to education because of biases and more often than not they are entirely incorrect. I think I work with some of the brightest young people and I really enjoy working with them.  They teach me more things than I could ever teach them.


Being a refugee-oriented CBO, what suggestions would you have for the field when working with communities of color?  You kind of just alluded to some of the issues that they face….

I think we’ve been branching out to newer communities, not just from Burma, which has really been enlightening I think.  It happened organically that we saw this need, there were students that were coming to our afterschool programming and our summer programming that weren’t from Burma, and we just felt like it’s important for those students to have access to information and access to help and support.  We aren’t going to bar them from being participants.  And so, I think, in working with these newer communities we’ve learned a lot of discrimination in different communities about the hijab or assumptions made about peoples’ background.  I think there’s so much more work to be done both within the school and outside of the school.  I think more conversations need to be had.  There should be also a focus on professional development and cultural competency training.  There is a lot of work being done both in Seattle Public Schools and Kent Public Schools, and they’re trying to incorporate more trainings, but there needs to be even more.


As a white woman, what has been most helpful for you working with the Burmese community and communities of color in-general?

Yeah, it’s not an easy thing.  It shouldn’t be easy.  It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s supposed to be a constant reflection.  There is no one simple way to make a person empathetic.  Its hard work and you have to do it all the time.  You have to be constantly questioning, “Am I coming into this situation with a bias?  Am I seeing this situation differently because of my position?  Am I asking something unfair of my family or of my students?  Am I putting them in a position that is unfair by asking them to do something?”  So it’s like I appreciate that question because I think it’s important for anyone working in a non-profit or in a school or working in the frontlines, whether they’re white or a person of color, to constantly be questioning where their biases lie.  And it could be because my race, my ethnicity, my religion, my social position, or my privilege, you just constantly have to be questioning, “Is this coloring how I’m interacting in this situation?”

Time to Save 21st Century Community Learning Centers

The 21st Century Community Learning Center Program (21st CCLC’s) supports over 150 programs in Washington that provide more than 18,000 children and youth with expanded learning opportunities afterschool and in the summer (particularly in rural areas). These programs provide enriching Expanded Learning Opportunities including everything from Lego Robotics, to reading, to website development, to creative writing and the arts.

Congress is considering a proposal that would eliminate several educational funding streams and combine them into a few large block grants for general education including the only dedicated federal funding source for afterschool and summer programs; 21st CCLCs. The ability of quality programs to leverage state and local resources, professional development and training, to achieve desired outcomes around student success will be lost given the broadening of the funding stream and competing provisions. Our national partners at the Afterschool Alliance have a complete synopsis of the proposed legislation being considered. The U.S. House Education and Commerce Committee has already passed out a bill that eliminates 21st CCLC’s. The U.S. Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee may have a vote on this bill in early March, so your voice is needed now.

If you haven’t already, please make your voice heard by sending an email to your U.S. Senators and Representative!

Is there a boy crisis in America?

An exciting film screening opportunity is coming to the Seattle area on March 8th & 9th as part of the Women’s Funding Alliance’s ACTION Cinema. The Mask You Live In by the Representation Project explores how our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.

This film speaks to what we can do as parents, educators, youth workers and members of society fostering positive opportunities for all young people.

The Mask You Live In

Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our culture’s emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The film examines how boys are influenced by parenting, our education system, sports culture, and mass media – especially violent video games and pornography — and how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class, and circumstance. Of particular importance to the film is unveiling the long-term, negative impact of “American masculinity” on the mental and emotional well-being of male youth. 


Sunday March 8th at 2:00 PM

Seattle Public Library, Microsoft Auditorium

Monday March 9th at 6:00 PM

Kirkland Performance Center

Tickets can be purchased from the Women’s Funding Alliance, $10 per individual ticket. 

Member of greater SOWA community lauded as a “Youth of the Year”

Lucresha Taylor Jr. was awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County – Southwest Club “Youth Of the Year” award.

Lucresha Taylor Southwest Club Youth of the Year

Lucresha Taylor
Southwest Club Youth of the Year

You may remember Lucresha when she stood in front of us at the Impact Youth Breakfast in November and shared her story about how being in the Boys and Girls Club profoundly affected her life.

Yesterday, she stood in front of another room of 300+ people and shared her vision for youth in America, which includes detaching from the digital world to increase focus & success in academics. Additionally, Lucresha has been accepted at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina – though she has a few more applications out there, and hasn’t decided which community she will change next, yet.

The Southwest Club is now one year into the Youth Program Quality Initiative and has taken active leadership in connecting young people to education, counseling, recreation, and a wide range of other supports in the South King County. School’s Out Washington is proud to work with the Southwest club (as well as all of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in King County) to improve the quality of interactions available for young people, and we are particularly proud of all of this year’s honorees for Youth of The Year. Please join us in congratulating Lucresha and the other honorees, their families, and support teams at the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County!

You can learn more about Lucresha and all of the other Youth of the Year here.

STEM Announcements for February

So much is happening is the world of STEM. Not only is Pi Day a month away, but Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is coming on Feb 27. There’s also funding and training available for STEM programs.

Pi Day – How are you celebrating?

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. This year’s Pi Day is particularly special because the date will be 3/14/15. Celebrate at 9:26 for bonus points! Traditional celebrations include fun math games with circles, eating all kinds of pies (including pizza pie), and Einstein lookalike contests (Einstein’s birthday happens to be March 14th).

If you’d like to connect math and fitness (and really, who wouldn’t?), Piraeus Consulting in Seattle is sponsoring a Pi Day fun run, or you can join a virtual Pi Day 5K at Pi Day is a great opportunity to share the fun of math with children and youth. We’re not due for another Pi Day of quite this magnitude for another hundred years.

If you have a celebration planned, we would love to hear about it / see photos! Send those, or any questions about the day to Krista at


Free training for providers who want to teach youth to code, but don’t have the experience

The Youth Apps Challenge is an exciting competition for middle and high school students across Washington, offering them a chance to design and build apps for tablets and smartphones! Teams of up to five students are eligible to participate, with prizes that include tablets, visits to local technology companies, and more. Training is Seattle Feb 13 by The Youth Apps Challenge. Learn to teach your students how to code apps, even if you yourself have no prior experience. To sign up or for more information, contact Drew Atkins at or 206-389-7320


Sign the petition to end the global gender technology gap

The National Girls Collaborative Project is collaborating with UN Women joining a global campaign to demand equal access to and control of technology for women and girls worldwide. Women and girls have the ability and ingenuity to ignite change – but may be limited unless they are equal players in science and technology. Women around the globe are too often excluded from the global technology revolution. The result: more inequality, less innovation, and solutions that leave women out. Sign the petition to end the global gender technology gap today to make sure women and girls are at the center of the science and technology revolution.


Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Nationwide; February 26, 2015

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day serves as a call to action to focus on getting more girls into the engineering and technology fields. Find events near you, learn how to start an event, and explore resources to encourage girls in engineering.


Save the Date: Engage Youth in STEM with SciGirls! A PNWGCP Professional Development Forum

April 25, 2015, Seattle, WA

Save the date and join us at the Museum of Flight on Saturday, April 25, 2015 for a full-day professional development forum hosted by the Pacific Northwest Girls Collaborative Project focused on integrating inquiry-based STEM instruction with a commitment to gender equity.

Participants will learn the latest research for exciting and engaging girls (and boys) in STEM; experience hands-on STEM activities; and gain access to free materials for hands-on, video-enhanced activities that put a creative twist on teaching STEM. Registration information coming soon.


Electric Airplane Capstone Challenge

April 25, 2015, Seattle, WA

At this event students will learn, collaborate, and compete in a challenge to design, build, and fly an electric, tethered airplane that will carry the most cargo. The event will also include STEM mentors, a keynote speaker, and an awards ceremony.

Learn More


Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship supports low- and middle-income students pursuing eligible high-demand majors in science, technology, engineering, math or health care and encourages recipients to work in Washington State once they complete their degrees. The application period is from January 5, 2015 to March 2, 2015. Learn More.

Learn More


Show Us Your STEM

It’s your turn to shine. Change the Equation is looking for stories, video, photos, etc. that answer the question “What does STEM literacy mean to you?” Collected content will be used to show how important STEM literacy is to all of us.

Learn More

King County Learning Community Gathering Sets Exciting Precedent

By James Lovell, SOWA Quality Initiatives Program Manager

On Wednesday, January 14th, School’s Out Washington hosted an exciting “first-of-its-kind” event: A King County Quality Learning Community Meeting. Peer & Professional Learning Communities have been the bedrock of SOWA’s method of professional development for years. Typically, these meetings constitute 8-12 sites that are working on a project with the same timeline. Some groups have the opportunity to meet past cohorts to share best practices over the years, but often times shifts in funding and program timelines makes it difficult to all meet. On the 14th, however, the field turned out in full force!

More than 115 folks attended the Learning Community Meeting on Wednesday the 14th. The common thread for everyone was participation in the content-neutral Youth or School Age Program Quality Initiative over the last 5 years. The goal? To be less content neutral. The focus of the meeting was for folks to combine with self-determined and self-selected colleagues in different areas, including STEM, Arts, Civic Engagement, Health & Treatment, and many more areas. These groups of 10-15 began with questions about challenges to each program area – “What are you most challenged by as a ______ program?” and the discussion then took a deeper look at the different content areas and what sustainability as a field looks like for each one.

We were joined by several first-time staff (from volunteers to program leads to Executive Directors), who brought a fresh perspective to the Quality work and Peer Learning Community. We also enjoyed a host of seasoned veterans who helped drive conversations down fun and authentic paths to develop common mission. The meeting, held at St. Mark’s Bloedel Hall, was an exciting meeting to attend and host, and will remain an inspiration to SOWA staff to continue to connect the field across and within content areas toward our shared goal – better outcomes for more young people in King County and Washington State.

Check-out this video which more than words can, shows the energy, conversation, connection and learning happening at this event.

For more information about the Youth Program Quality Initiative, visit School’s Out Washington’s website.

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