Illinois ACRES STEM Project

Illinois ACRES (After School Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM)

Afterschool Providers in Illinois to Receive Free Professional Development

The Illinois Afterschool Network has been chosen to participate in the National Science Foundation Scale-up Grant. IAN was one of 3 states (New York and Missouri), chosen by the ACRES (After School Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM) Project to serve as a Hub of professional learning. During this three year, multi-million-dollar scale-up grant, the Illinois Afterschool Network will offer free coaching to after school educators who wish to hone their STEM facilitation skills, and will have extensive support to train after school leaders as coaches.
The Illinois Afterschool Network will receive funding and support to first train coaches and then offer free professional learning statewide with an emphasis on central and downstate Illinois. There will be increased opportunities to reflect on how programs can make STEM career connections and STEM equity will be a focus of our work. There will be no fees to participate, lots of resources will be extended to all participants, and there will even be stipends available to those that participate in MMSA’s educational research as we wrap up the four-year project.

Current Illinois ACRES STEM Coaches

  • Latasha Battie – Northwest Region (outside of Chicago)
  • Lynn Franco – Champaign Region
  • Robert McIntyre – Quads City Region
  • Christopher Otte – Quincy Region
  • Amy Shields – Granite City Region
  • Cynthia Yelich – Southwest Region (outside of Chicago)

To learn more about the how to take advantage of these opportunities visit
or reach out to Gwyndolyn Moss, Executive Director at

Pexels Vanessa Loring 7869049

FREE: Asking Purposeful Questions: An Overview/ GRATIS: Preguntando con Propósito:

What are Purposeful Questions?  Click2Science defines purposeful questions as well-placed questions that drive STEM experiences and design questions while helping learners understand what they should focus on, and where they should go next.Qué son Preguntas con Propósito? Click2Science define preguntas con Propósito aquellas preguntas que facilitan experiencias en STEM y diseñan preguntas mientras se ayuda a los estudiantes a entender el propósito (o lo que se está focalizando en entender, o lo que se deberían prepararse para pensar o focalizarse en el próximo paso)

FREE/ GRATIS: First, enroll in ACRES

Once you are logged in, sign up for this opportunity using the code NY373PQ (Coach Lorena)

Cohort_ID: NY373 PQ

Coach: Harris, Lorena

SeasonYear(Q#): Spring2024(Q4)

Meeting Time (CENTRAL): 1:30 – 3:30 pm CT (2 hours/horas)

Session 1 Date: 5/15/2024 UTC

Session 2 Date: 5/22/2024 UTC

Session 3 Date: 6/5/2024 UTC

Curiosity and engagement are central to learning. Encouraging youth to share their ideas with you and their peers fosters both.  Questions can be the beginning of a path towards discovery, imagination, and STEM exploration. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying, “Could you say a bit more about how you’re thinking about that?” or “I’m a bit confused about what you mean here … are you saying X or Y?”. Be sure to give youth plenty of wait time to think or even write before answering.

Curiosidad y estar involucrado es central para el aprendizaje. Motivar a los jóvenes a compartir sus ideas con sus compañeros incentive la curiosidad y el propósito de entender STEM. ¿Algunas veces es tan simple como decir, “Puedes explicar un poco como llegaste a esa conclusión?” o “Estoy un poco confundido de lo que significa eso, quiere decir esto o aquello?”  Es importante darle al joven tiempo para pensar o hasta para escribir lo que están pensado antes de responder.

Para ser eficiente en tu proceso de enseñar, prepara unas preguntas antes de reunirse en la clase. Las siguientes preguntas son preguntas que puede que ayuden a romper el hielo, y ayuden a facilitar el proceso de aprendizaje:

It can be helpful to think in advance about a few questions you could ask at key points in an exploration.  The following sentence starters may help you frame your thinking as you facilitate learning:

Questions to Share, Expand, and Clarify Thinking

Preguntas para expandir y aclarar tu pensamiento 

  • What more can you say about that?  ¿Qué más puedes decir al respecto? 
  • What do you mean by that?   ¿Qué quieres decir con eso?
  • What’s another example? ¿Qué otro ejemplo puedes pensar al respecto?
  • So, are you saying…? Oh sea, lo que quieres decir es …?
  • So, let me see if I’ve got what you’re saying. Are you saying…? ¿Déjame ver si entiendo lo que estás diciendo. Lo que quieres decir es …?

(always leaving space for the original student to agree or disagree and say more, (siempre dejando tiempo y espacio para el estudiante, esperando a ver si el estudiante está en acuerdo o en desacuerdo con lo conversado)

Questions to Dig Deeper

Preguntas para Pensar Profundo 

  • Why do you think that? ¿Por qué piensas eso?
  • What’s your evidence? ¿Qué evidencia tienes al respecto?
  • How did you arrive at that conclusion? ¿Cómo llegaste a la conclusión?  
  • Does it always work that way?   ¿Crees que siempre trabaja de esa manera?
  • How does that idea compare to Sonya’s example?  ¿Cómo crees que esa idea se compara con la idea (o el ejemplo) de Sonya?
  • What if it had been gravel instead of soil?  ¿Qué crees que pasará si es grava en vez de suelo?
  • Who can respond to that idea?  ¿Quién puede responder a esa idea?  
  • Who can add onto the idea that Jamal is building?  ¿Quién puede responder a la idea que Jamal está construyendo? 
  • Let’s take that suggestion and how can we push it a little further?  Vamos a tomar esta sugerencia, ¿Cómo podemos hacer para pensar un poco más?

Used with permission and adapted from: Michaels, Sarah, and Cathy O’Connor. (2012) Goals for Productive Discussions and Nine Talk Moves. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, p.11

Translated by Lorena Harris PhD, CSTEP Director at SUNY Schenectady.