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Billionaire Inventor Invests in After-School STEM Programs
After-school programs in Chicago are receiving funding from billionaire-inventor James Dyson to run engineering and technology courses at their sites this fall, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
Dyson, who developed a well-known line of vacuum cleaners and other appliances, has pledged a half-million dollars for the course at 20 after-school programs that will teach kids how to design their own engineering projects and encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. If successful, Dyson said the program will likely be replicated at other after-school programs in large, urban districts around the country, particularly those with high percentages of high-need students.
Incorporation of STEM in out-of-school-time programs has become a hot topic in the field. In fact, the Afterschool Alliance, the National Afterschool Association, and the National Summer Learning Association have teamed up this year with foundational support to make 2011 the Year of Science in Afterschool. Their efforts include increasing awareness of the need for STEM in after-school programs, showing how to effectively incorporate STEM curricula at program sites, and training instructional staff on how to peak students' interest in the subjects while covering fundamental material that aligns with the school day.