ECS OST Picking Up STEAM Thanks to Major Grant

Learning opportunities for participants in the ECS Out of School Time (ECS OST) program are about to expand thanks to a three-year grant under the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced the funding on Wednesday, selecting ECS as one of 64 grant recipients. Based on the program’s size, ECS will receive $195,000 annually for three years for after-school and summer programming for elementary school students.

“This is an affirmation of the transformative work we are doing at ECS OST,” ECS Executive Director Dave Griffith said. “Along with our Seeing Youth Succeed program and new Employment Center for older youth, these improvements fit into our core strategy to prepare under-resourced youth for post-secondary education and rewarding careers.”

ECS OST is recognized as a high-quality purveyor of Out of School Time programming in the City of Philadelphia. Program elements are closely aligned to core strategies of effective youth programming as identified by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia ad Southern NJ. These include academic achievement, arts, civic engagement and leadership, employability, life skills, and more.

“One of the challenges Out of School Time programs face is integrating the curriculum and standards students are exposed in the classroom,” ECS OST Director Christian Holland said. “We work closely with the School District and principals in the Feltonville Educational Campus and this is an opportunity to do even more with this community.”

The funding will allow ECS OST to implement STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) into all project-based learning activities and curriculum. ECS has identified a variety of community partners to help provide specialized learning opportunities. Highlights of the new programming include:

  • SCIENCE – Women’s and Children’s Services at Einstein Medical Center will present “A Better Start” programming, which is designed to provide health science and nutrition education. A certified science teacher has developed a life science curriculum on plants and organisms.
  • TECHNOLOGY –  A state-certified elementary educator in technology and math will lead a web-based curriculum, teaching students to code, and ultimately develop and test their own computer applications on tablets.
  • ENGINEERING – In a hands-on robotics curriculum, students will build an understanding of basic science concepts related to robotics, while applying the processes of scientific inquiry and engineering design.
  • ARTSPhiladelphia Arts in Education Partnership of University of the Arts will bring professional visual and performing artists to visit the program and lead students in hands-on arts-making activities.
  • MATH – The math curriculum builds upon the skills learned through the Technology curriculum. Using computers as sophisticated calculators, the underpinnings of algebra, functions and geometry will be introduced, while students learning that computing devices, translate user input into variables that cause different reactions or functions.

During the course of the grant period, ECS OST will invite bachelors and masters level interns studying in STEAM-related fields to staff the program and provide tutoring expertise and homework help. The Franklin Institute will even provide a STEM-based family night once a year over the next three years. The Franklin Institute has also been contracted to host a STEM-focused staff training. It all adds up to amazing opportunity for learning in the Feltonville community.