Project GUTS wins the Afterschool Alliance's STEM Impact Award!

STEM Impact AwardSTEM Impact Award

NEWS RELEASE October 20, 2013

CONTACT: Gretchen Wright, Afterschool Alliance, 202-371-1999
John German, Santa Fe Institute, 505-946-2798

Santa Fe Afterschool Program Receives National Award for Engaging Middle School Students Computer Science

Santa Fe Institute’s Project GUTS Is One of Only Two Programs Nationwide to Receive $10,000 Award

The Afterschool Alliance and the Noyce Foundation today recognized Santa Fe Institute’s Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and computer science afterschool program, for its success in helping middle school students acquire computational thinking and inquiry skills they need to study local issues using computational modeling and simulation. Project GUTS is one of only two programs nationwide to receive the Afterschool STEM Impact Award, which is being presented for the first time this year. Project GUTS is being acknowledged for its strong computing component. The other winner is Northwestern University and Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Pedersen-McCormick Club’s Science Club program. Nearly 200 programs applied for the award.

“It’s becoming increasingly important for our young people to develop an appreciation and mastery of science, technology, engineering and math skills in order to succeed in a technologically advanced world,” said Ron Ottinger, executive director of the Noyce Foundation. “With a focus on hands-on learning and making learning fun, afterschool programs have been doing an exemplary job of getting students excited about and engaged in those disciplines. We’re delighted to partner with the Afterschool Alliance to recognize and honor the programs that are leading the way.”

The Afterschool STEM Impact Awards recognize outstanding afterschool STEM programs that target students in fourth through eighth grades, serve students from populations underrepresented in STEM fields and can demonstrate the impact of their programs on students who participate.

The Award, which includes a $10,000 check, was presented at the Project GUTS Lights On Afterschool event, one of 8,000 events being held across the country this month as part of the nationwide rally for afterschool.

“We are thrilled to receive this national recognition and award. Our students have demonstrated that learners as young as middle school age can engage in computational modeling and scientific inquiry to understand and potentially solve problems in their local communities” said Irene Lee, Project GUTS’ director. “Through Project GUTS we want to offer them the chance to develop computing and STEM inquiry skills while strengthening the connections they see between computing and solving real-world problems.”
Project GUTS is a STEM and computer science afterschool program that helps middle school students acquire computational thinking and inquiry skills they need to study local issues using computational modeling and simulation. The program is open to students in sixth through eighth grade. Participants design, create and test computer models to simulate “what if” scenarios for real-word questions of community and societal concern – such as the spread of contagious disease or the population dynamics of an ecosystem.

“Computer science is driving every aspect of our modern economy; demand for computing skills across vast and varied industries continues to grow, even as current needs go unmet,” said Cameron Wilson, chief operating officer and vice president of Government Affairs of, a non-profit dedicated to growing computer science education. “I am so pleased to see afterschool providers in communities across the country exposing young people to computer science. Experiencing computer science in afterschool programs can get students and their parents demanding more of it in formal education settings. And that's good for them and the country.”

Afterschool Alliance Vice President of STEM Policy Anita Krishnamurthi presented the Award to Irene Lee, the program director for Project GUTS and GUTS y Girls during a special Lights On Afterschool event at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. At the event, Lights On Afterschool! A Celebration of STEM and Computing in Out of School time Programs, guests participate in hands-on science activities worked on technology projects; learn computer modeling and animation; play strategic games; and see the Project GUTS and GUTS y Girls Gallery.

“There’s no substitute for learning by doing, and that’s part of what makes afterschool programs such great places to learn about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “We’re very excited to work with the Noyce Foundation to present the new Afterschool STEM Impact Awards to recognize programs that are doing an outstanding job of teaching kids about the sciences and math.”

The Afterschool Alliance organizes Lights On Afterschool to draw attention to the many ways afterschool programs support students by offering them opportunities to learn new things – such as robotics, Tae Kwon Do and art – and discover new skills. The events give youth a chance to showcase the skills they learn and talents they develop at their afterschool programs and to send the message that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs. This year, more than a million people nationwide are expected to participate in more than 8,000 events. For the seventh year in a row, the Empire State Building will be lit up on October 17 as part of the celebration.

Submitted by ilee on 19. December 2013 - 1:03