About the Youth Inspired Challenge
Overview of the Youth Inspired Challenge
The Youth Inspired Challenge is a major new initiative of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), designed to expand the impact of science centers and museums to assist our youth to become the innovative and creative thinkers needed for the 21st century workforce. This new program is inspired by President Obama and other world leaders’ commitment to strengthening the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics knowledge of today’s youth. ASTC member institutions, located in 45 countries, will offer valuable science education and youth employment programs outside the classroom to engage youth in a minimum of 2 million hours of science enrichment through STEM-centered youth development programs.
In addition to measuring the reach of youth programs offered by science centers and museums, another goal of the Challenge is support the development of participating institutions’ programs and establishment of new programs by nurturing a global community of practice around youth programming. This component of the Challenge will include webinars, dissemination of models, and funding opportunities for participating institutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Download full Youth Inspired Challenge FAQs
- What are STEM-centered youth development programs?
STEM-centered youth development programs in science centers and museums go well beyond the annual field trip to the science center or the special visit to the school by science center staff. They are intensive programs that engage students as early as sixth grade in cumulative STEM learning experiences throughout the secondary years and even into higher education. Youth are challenged to explore STEM concepts in fun, challenging, and nurturing environments through hands-on methods that are designed to encourage both the development of critical thinking skills and the self-esteem necessary for success in academics and the workplace. Many programs also offer opportunities to explore future careers through interaction with local STEM professional mentors, trips to corporate offices, and pre-college visits.
- How are Youth Inspired Challenge programs different from other STEM education initiatives?
Unique to these programs is the focus on science learning as a foundation for building self-esteem, developing problem-solving and workplace skills, and increasing interpersonal communication abilities. Middle-school-age youth are engaged as program participants, learning from science center staff, peer role models, and STEM professionals. Programs for high-school-age youth are often designed as service-learning activities; they offer opportunities to transition from participants into peer mentors who facilitate learning for younger students, or as explainers who facilitate hands-on STEM learning for the general public visiting the science center. Supported by science center staff that are highly skilled in both youth development and STEM education practices, these programs are vital links between parents, local school districts, and community organizations in supporting academic excellence and STEM skills in the youth they serve.