Modeling the Universe (SPI)
Science Play-Space Initiative (SPI)
Mount Vernon, OH
The Science Play-Space Initiative offered a weekly after school science club for middle school students for 13 weeks. This afterschool program consisted of snacks and social time followed by one hour of hands-on instruction. Curriculum drew heavily from AfterSchool Universe with additions and substitutions from other resources.
Increase interest, curiosity, and knowledge of science and the world beyond our county in our community
Science enrichment using the NGSS framework
Provide a hands-on science program with a creative element
Provide enjoyable experience with the tools and process of science.
Provide organized alternative to sports programs after school that meet developmental needs of middle schoolers
Provide a safe space to foster relationships between students, our organization, and older mentors
The audience for this program model is rural middle school students. Students from low income households, girls, and astronomy and science enthusiasts looking for academic enrichment were all targeted audiences. Although not targeted, this program also expect to serve ASD and ADHD/ADD neurodiverse children who need a smaller nontraditional program and have enjoyed our programs in the past.
Recommendations for future implementations
Make sure space is adequate – In particular, as space that can be darkened, has internet video capability, and is large enough for students to move around. Make sure to have enough planning time to try out activities, and to collect all the diverse materials in advance of facilitation. A knowledgeable, enthusiastic and flexible facilitator is important for middle school students, particularly neurodiverse ones.