Most of the elements and practices listed here are just sound educational and organizational practice. Naturally, one important element of success it to find energetic and resourceful staff to lead the program. It certainly helps to have a "champion" or cheerleader for science in your agency, but experience has shown that the highest level of your administration must be fully committed to providing organizational, funding and training support to your staff.

  Essential Structural Elements of Afterschool Science
  1. Put science on the regular program schedule and provide dedicated classroom and storage space.

  2. Choose engaging, age-appropriate hands-on science and engineering projects. Favor projects that use familiar, inexpensive and accessible materials.

  3. From your, assign those who bring the most energy, resourcefulness and passion to lead the programs .

  4. Set clear learning goals that match the nature and capacity of your afterschool program.

  5. Provide staff training that is specific to each new science project. "Just-in-time" or generic training does not work.

  6. Provide your staff with coaching, feedback and support during or between class sessions.

  7. Assign a point person to procure and manage materials.

  8. Get parents involved and give the students opportunities to share their work and findings with other audiences.

Good teacher training always leads to better outcomes for students.


Multiple studies on professional development for teachers show that conference workshops alone or occasional, generic in-house trainings do not change the way teachers teach. We also know that the most effective trainings are those that focus on specific curriculum -- rather than generic skills or principles. Sustained PD and support is as critical to the impact of afterschool science.