Dimensions of Success Planning Tool Training

January’s been a busy month already for the OC STEM Hub. We held a training on the Dimensions of Success Planning Tool in early January with 37 attendees. The Dimensions of Success (DoS) tool was developed as an observation tool for quality STEM programming in informal and out-of-school time programs through a National Science Foundation grant. The National Science Foundation study was conducted by the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency (PEAR) at Harvard University.

The DoS tool identifies 12 dimensions of quality STEM programming in afterschool/expanded learning programs and guides practitioners and supervisors in the evaluation of areas of strength, and areas of growth for the program. This training in particular was on their Planning Tool, which can be used by practitioners, even if they haven’t gone through the certification process. The Planning Tool provides a framework for staff who are developing activities for their programs. First a STEM Learning Goal is determined; then Activity Design (how will students “get” the goal?); next Preparation is thought through for maximum learning time; after these three have been identified Enactment occurs; and finally a reflection through Quality Improvement Efforts is made.

The training sponsored by the OC STEM Hub first gave a brief overview of the 12 Dimensions of Success to provide context for the attendees. The training was largely focused on the Activity Design process to strengthen students’ learning through “typical” STEM lessons like Owl Pellets or the Egg Drop Activity. Attendees were able to work collaboratively to review the Planning Tool and determine how higher quality learning could occur in their own afterschool settings.

The DoS Planning Tool training was led by Chris Kent from the Anaheim Family YMCA in approval and support from Ashima Shah, Research Associate & Manager of STEM Program Quality, Research and Training Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency at Harvard University.

Communities of Practice Meeting

January was also our third Communities of Practice (CoP) Meeting for the OC STEM Hub, with our largest turn out yet at 55 attendees! Thank you to PBS SoCal who hosted our meeting in their Studio and provided our group with refreshments and tours of their space. Everyone was impressed with the amazing contributions PBS SoCal makes to education in our region. Another outcome from the meeting was the CoP participants determined that it would be valuable to extend the meetings, therefore we’ve added an additional 15 minutes to the start time from now on which give us more time for Community Building.

The meeting also focused on Quality Staffing for Out-of-School Time Programs. Our community building activity provided attendees an opportunity record key attributes in a staff member and then they each had to find another attendee in the room who had the same key attribute. There were a lot of matches – demonstrating the common goals of the group!  The rest of the time was spent talking in table groups sharing promising practices and getting new ideas on the Recruitment, Retention, Professional Engagement, and Professional Development for new employees. Two table groups continued working on the use of Logic Models for quality programming. Thank you to our table facilitators and to those who shared out during the meeting. The energy in the room was positive and the group voiced appreciation for the time they have to come together to learn from each other and hear new ideas.

Our next meeting will be in March with a focus on removing the intimidation of STEM!