Research: STEM

Afterschool: Middle School and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). (2010).
MetLife Foundation Afterschool Alert; Afterschool Alliance, Issue Brief No. 44.        

National Governors Association Brief Highlights Advantages of Informal Science. (2012).

S.T.E.M. Initiatives. Research Brief. David Anderson, Principals’ Partnership. (2010). This research brief answers the questions: What are the characteristics of exemplary STEM initiatives? What are some exemplary STEM initiatives?

What Afterschool STEM Does Best: How Stakeholders Describe Youth Learning Outcomes. (2013). Krishnamurthi, Began, Rinehart, Coulon. Afterschool Matters.

Research: Wearable Technology

Nugent, G., Barker, B., Grandgenett, N. (2015). Robotics camps, clubs, and competitions: Results from a US robotics project. Robotics and Autonomous Systems Journal. doi:10.1016/j.robot.2015.07.011

Nugent, G., Barker, B., Welch, G., Grandgenett, N., Wu, C., & Nelson, C. (2015). A Model of Factors Contributing to STEM Learning and Career Orientation. International Journal of Science Education, (ahead-of-print), 1-22.

Barker, B., Larson, K., & Krehbiel, M. (2014). Bridging Formal and Informal Learning Environments. Journal of Extension, 52(5), 5IAW5.

Barker, B., Nugent, G., & Grandgenett, N. F. (2014). Examining fidelity of program implementation in a STEM-oriented out-of-school setting. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 24(1), 39-52.

Barker, B., Melander, J., Grandgenett, N., & Nugent, G. (2015, March). Utilizing Wearable Technologies as a Pathway to STEM. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2015, No. 1, pp. 1782-1788).

Nugent, G., Barker, B., Grandgenett, N. (in press). Wearable Technologies to Promote STEM Learning and Attitudes. Proceedings of the World Conference on E-Learning 2015.

Nugent, G., Barker, B., & Welch, G. (2014, March). A model of STEM learning and career orientation based on social cognitive theory. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2014, No. 1, pp. 1432-1440).

Nugent, G., Barker, B., Grandgenett, N., & Welch, G. (2014). Robotics camps, clubs, and competitions: Results from a US robotics project. In Proceedings of 4th International Workshop Teaching Robotics, Teaching with Robotics &5th International Conference Robotics in Education Padova (Italy) July (Vol. 18, No. 2014, pp. 11-18).

Barker, B., Melander, J., Grandgenett, N., & Nugent, G. (2015). Utilizing Wearable Technologies as a Pathway to STEM. In Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2015., Liu, L. & Gibson, D.C. (Ed.), Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2015. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. 

Barker, B., Nugent, G., Grandgenett, N., Melander, J., Nelson, C. A., & Leduc-Mills, B. (In Press) Developing an Elementary Engineering Education Program through Problem-Based Wearable Technologies Activities. In Handbook of Research on Wearable and Mobile Technologies in Education. Hershey, PA: Developing an Elementary Engineering Education Program through Problem-Based Wearable Technologies Activities. IGI. 

Upcoming Workshops

2017 Workshops


Workshop Descriptions


Video tutorials from Sparkfun, January 22, 2016

APPLY to Attend a Summer 2017 WearTec Workshop.

The Wearable Technologies (WearTec) project seeks to create and deliver a series of hands-on, minds-on activities to engage middle school youth (grades 4-6) in authentic STEM learning. The activities, based on wearable technologies, use a small sewable micro-controller (really small computer), sensors, conductive thread and LEDs to create a “smart” textile. In this program, youth will merge engineering design, computer programming, their understanding of circuitry, innovative problem solving skills, artistry and entrepreneurial skills to solve authentic STEM problems within an engineering context. Workshop participants will receive electronic components needed for implementation with students.

July 12 -14, 2017
9:00 AM to 3:30 PM each day
Norfolk Community College
Lifelong Learning Center
Norfolk, NE

Lunch on your own.
$140.00 stipend each day for certified teachers

Workshop is now closed to certified teachers.
Please contact Kim Larson ( if you are an informal educator wanting to attend the workshop and plan to implement the curriculum in an afterschool or summer program.
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July 25-27
9:00 AM to 3:30 PM each day
Gretna/Whitetail Creek Elementary School
19110 Greenleaf Street
Omaha, NE
Lunch on your own.
$140.00 stipend each day for certified teachers
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
August 1-3, 2017
9:00 AM to 3:30 PM each day
Crete Intermediate School
1700 Glenwood Ave
Crete, NE   68333
Lunch on your own.
$140.00 stipend each day for certified teachers



Biomedical engineers develop solutions to medical problems, such as stabilizing fractured bones, tracking blood flow in the body and growing new organs. In this workshop, participants will explore this exciting field through hands-on activities that can be incorporated into their 21st CCLC summer programs. The workshop content is appropriate for students in grades 4 through 8.  This two-day workshop will take place at ESU 13 in Scottsbluff, NE and will include a tour of state of the art research laboratories at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Participants will get to:

  • Design bone fracture stabilizers.

  • Prepare tissue engineering scaffolds and explore how organs are made in a lab.

  • Treat nanoparticle models to function inside the body as sensors.

The workshop will be led by Dr. Angie Pannier, Biomedical Engineer and Associate Professor, UNL, Nicole Iverson, Biomedical Engineering and Assistant Professor, Dr. Jenny Keshwani, Biomedical Engineer and Assistant Professor, UNL, and Dr. Krista Adams, Science Education and Assistant Professor, UNL.

The materials needed to implement the Biomedical Engineering curriculum are very low cost and in many cases include materials that are on-hand in afterschool programs. Materials will be provided to workshop participants.

Jenny Keshwani, UNL Biomedical Engineer, explains more about this summer’s Biomedical Engineering workshops! Click here.

July 25-26, 2017
Educational Service Unit 13
4215 Avenue I
Scottsbluff, NE

Day 1: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm;
Day 2: 8:30 am – 12:00 pm;

Lunch on your own.

  • All workshop participants will receive materials needed to implement activities to take back to their schools.
  • Certified teachers who attend will receive $140.00 daily stipend, PLUS a $320.00 implementation stipend.


BLAST! Partners

Nebraska BLAST! Partners

Upcoming Workshops

Nebraska BLAST! (Building Lasting Afterschool STEM Teams) is an initiative designed to bring engaged STEM learning opportunities to students who attend Nebraska 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool and summer programs.

Current Nebraska BLAST! partners include:

NASA Nebraska Space Grant
Nebraska 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program
Nebraska Department of Education

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering
Nebraska 4-H
Nebraska Extension

University of Nebraska – Omaha

Office of STEM Education




Nebraska BLAST!


BLAST! Partners

Upcoming Workshops


Related Links

Nebraska BLAST! (Building Lasting Afterschool STEM Teams) is an initiative designed to bring engaging learning opportunities to students who attend Nebraska 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool and summer programs. The primary goal of Nebraska BLAST! is to partner with statewide, regional, and local organizations to provide professional development for teams of certified teachers and informal educators who then work together to plan and implement student-centered learning opportunities for students after school and in the summer.

Nebraska BLAST! curriculum is now available at the following web address:

Frequently Asked Questions About Nebraska BLAST!



For more information about Nebraska BLAST! please contact:
Kim Larson, Coordinator of Professional Development,
21st Century Community Learning Centers, 402-471-4824


21st CCLC


Building Quality in Summer Programs
This article recommends several action steps to help program operators access resources and achieve quality programming.

How to Make the Most of Summer: What Parents Can Do to Keep Kids Sharp Over the Summer
This document can be printed and provided to parents to share ideas on how to keep kids sharp over the summer.

Leading Summer Learning Programs: Tips to Recruit and Select Seasonal Staff
The National Center for Summer Learning interviewed outstanding summer programs to find out what they do to select quality staff for summer programs and this brochure provides information on online recruiting tools, interviewing, and determining wages.

Meaningful Linkages Between Summer Programs, Schools, and Community Partners: Conditions and Strategies for Success
This report examines what high quality summer learning programs with strong and meaningful school and community linkages looks like and it’s outcomes.

Spark! Highlighting Best Practices in Summer Learning
Building Community Systems for Summer Learning: Snapshots of State and Local Efforts
National Summer Learning Association (posted 1.31.2017)

Summer Bridge Programs
This policy brief focuses on one type of activity that is designed to help eighth-grade students make a successful transition to high school- summer bridge programs.

What Works for Summer Learning Programs for Low-Income Children and Youth: Preliminary Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Social Interventions
This review suggests some insights into promising practices on how to make summer learning programs effective and make positive impacts (refer to page 3 for information on staffing, class size, interventional content and interventional strategies).


Summer Learning Ideas at Home and in Your Community
National Summer Learning Association (posted 2.25.2016)

Tips to Keep Tweens and Teens Learning During the Summer
National Summer Learning Association (posted 2.25.2016)


Beyond the Bell
Beyond the Bell offers a toolkit that may be helpful in planning summer programs.

Kids Gardening
Educator resources including lesson plans

Edutopia: Fun and Free Summer Learning Resources from Edutopia
Visit this Edutopia webpage for information and resources to help you plan your summer program. (posted 1.30.2017)

National Summer Learning Association
This website gives access to research, publications, and information specific to summer programs.

Preventing Summer Learning Loss
edWeb Webinar
Retaining what is learned during the school year is vitally important during breaks, and this retention contributes to a student’s overall success in school. View this webinar recording to learn hands-on, practical strategies for preventing learning loss and keeping kids sharp all summer long.

Reading Rockets: Get Ready for Summer!
Enriching summertime literacy activities for students and families.

Summer Learning
The Wallace Foundation
Browse the reports and other resources on this webpage for insights into summer learning.
(posted 1.31.2017)

Summer Learning Day information and resources

You for Youth: Summer Planning with Y4Y
Webinar and resources to help with planning a summer program.


(Science, Technology, Engi21st CCLCneering, and Mathematics)






Connect2engineering is here to serve as a resource for engineering events and happenings in the region, as well as a comprehensive source for connecting with area professionals, students and faculty already in the engineering field. There’s no better way to find out about careers in engineering than from those who enjoy it every day.

This site hosts an extensive STEMworks Database of excellent STEM learning programs from around the country. Change the Equation (CTEq) is proud to host this database of programs that deepen young people’s learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The DESIGN SQUAD NATION website is an online community that grew out of the DESIGN SQUAD television series that aired on PBS KIDS. The site targets kids ages 8 and older and features creative activities, engaging video, interactive games, and exciting contests.
The goal of Design Squad is to give kids a stronger understanding of the design process, and the connection between engineering and the things we all use in everyday life.

STEM Resource Guide
FINE Newsletter, Volume VII, Issue 2
Harvard Family Research Project
Looking for innovative ways to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities for children outside of the classroom? This newsletter includes information on hands-on activities and advice from museums, libraries, and afterschool programs that you can use while exploring STEM with students.

SMILE’s learning activities, tools, and services are available to all but are designed especially for those who teach school-aged children in non-classroom settings (like museums, zoos, aquaria, and afterschool or outdoor education programs). SMILE is dedicated to bringing the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities developed by informal science organizations around the country to the wider informal educator community, while encouraging that community to both use and contribute to SMILE’s growing collection.

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NRD’s) has a wide variety of projects and programs to educate youth (PK-12th Grade) about conserving and protecting the state’s natural resources.

The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

As part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, we are funded to promote aerospace-related research, education, and public service programs to encourage a Diverse Workforce. This is accomplished through a national network of colleges, universities, industry and federal agency partners.


NASA Education/Summer of Innovation
Visit the NASA Education Website. You’ll discover a wealth of information for students and educators. Find current opportunities, education-related feature stories and information about other NASA education projects.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network
NASA’s Digital Learning Network presents a series of videoconferences to assist educators in staying current on NASA education resources and related products. Topics to include: Exploring Space Through Math, Robotics, NASA Fit Explorers, NASA eProfessional Development Network — Robotics Course, MoonWorld, and On the Moon.

The goal of SciGirls is to change how girls think about science, technology, engineering and math – STEM. Although SciGirls targets engaging girls (8-13 years old) in STEM activities, the material can be utilized with everyone. The strategies that are highly beneficial to girls have also been proven to work with all learners, including underrepresented youth.

The Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs. The STEM Education Coalition represents all sectors of the technological workforce – from knowledge workers, to educators, to scientists, engineers, and technicians. The participating organizations of the STEM Education Coalition are dedicated to ensuring quality STEM education at all levels.

The Strategic Air and Space Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is a home to the largest collection of aircraft and space artifacts in the state. This museum, located near Ashland, Nebraska, provides visitors of all ages with exciting educational exhibits and activities that will inform and excite those interested in learning more about air and space.

Middle and high school teacher participants in the Summer Professional Development Institute have developed high quality lesson plans that use transportation engineering applications to dynamically illustrate science and math concepts! Find repository of lesson plans here. No registration/password necessary.

The You for Youth website will help you connect and share resources with your colleagues, provide professional development and technical assistance opportunities, and offer tools for improving your program practices. You and your students are already using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) more than you may realize. This course suggests enjoyable ways to build on your existing knowledge as you help your students see that STEM is everywhere and for everyone.

4-H is the Cooperative Extension System’s dynamic, non-formal, educational program for today’s young people. The program partners the cooperative efforts of youth, volunteer leaders, state land-grant universities, state and local governments, 4-H Foundations, and the Cooperative State Research, Educational and Extension Service of the US Department of Agriculture. Nebraska 4-H is comprised of youth, ages 5-19, and adults. Adults are involved as volunteers working with youth as leaders or on committees and boards providing the framework for 4-H. More than 400 Extension staff across the state serve as primary contacts for the more than 135,000 youth and 20,000 volunteers.

Secondary Resources

21st CCLC


Afterschool: The Challenges of Recruiting and Retaining Older Youth
This brief by Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, addresses recruiting and retaining older youth in afterschool programs.

Building Bridges A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding
This book is designed for adaption by teachers in grades 6-12 and provides lessons to help students better understand culture, how it has shaped them, the perspective of other cultures, a respect for those who are different, and an increased awareness of the value and practicality of social service.


21st Century Civics
This website is the creation of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O Connor and is designed to engage middle-school-aged children in civics (education, law, entertainment and technology experts developed the free web-based curriculum).

Harvard Family Research Project (posted 6.4.2015)
FINE Newsletter: Engaging Students in Afterschool Learning
Volume VII, Issue 2, Summer 2015
Harvard Family Research Project

This is Their House, Too: An Afterschool Space Designed for and by Teenagers
This case study provides a portrait of the Everett Boys & Girls Club, located just outside of Boston, and explores what makes it a successful place of learning and development for young people.

Leave Them Wanting More: Engaging Youth in Afterschool
Afterschool programs are a powerful influence in the lives of young people, but their benefits can only be realized if youth are engaged. This commentary explores the different dimensions of youth engagement in afterschool programs and offers promising practices for those seeking to promote and foster youth engagement.

For middle-school students, who may think college is a long way off, this website helps direct them to start thinking about college: the benefits of going to college, what steps can be taken now to prepare, and how to get help.

Summer Bridge Programs
This policy brief focuses on one type of activity that is designed to help eigth-grade students make a successful transition to high school- summer bridge programs.

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