NASA’s Afterschool Universe

The Illinois AfterSchool Network (IAN) in partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has been accepted into NASA’s Afterschool Universe!

NASA’s Afterschool Universe is an Out-of-School-Time astronomy program targeted at middle school students. It explores astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and takes participants on a journey through the Universe beyond the solar system. This program is now widely available to afterschool program providers to run in local communities throughout the country.

Middle school students are fascinated by the cosmos and topics such as star birth, star death, and black holes. But they rarely have an opportunity to explore that interest as the middle school curriculum does not typically address these topics. Afterschool Universe was developed to fill this niche as the middle school years are a critical time in the development of attitudes about science and career options, especially in girls. By offering astronomy programming in Out-of-School-Time, where schedules are less constrained, we can engage students in science and keep them interested.

On November 3-4, 2011 nine (9) programs attended the NASA Afterschool Universe training.  Special thanks to Patricia Messersmith and Elana Jacobs with the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) for facilitating a great two-day training on astronomy.  The programs in attendance are as follows:

**Casa Central- Youth Opportunities Unlimited Program- Chicago, IL
**Elliott Donnelley Youth Center- Chicago Youth Centers- Chicago, IL
**Erie Neighborhood House- Youth Options Unlimited Program- Chicago, IL
**Georgetown Ridge Farm- Unit #4- Georgetown, IL
**Project Y, McGaw YMCA- Evanston, IL
**Spartan Power Hour- Project Success- Danville, IL
**Springfield Urban League (2 sites) School Age & Youth Programs- Springfield
**Two Rivers Region Council- Teen Reach Program- Quincy, IL