The National Center for Quality Afterschool

Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

Welcome to the Science Afterschool Consumers Guide!

-- a message from the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley

We are pleased to present this guide and hope it will be a valuable resource for practitioners looking for science materials to use in afterschool settings. The idea for the guide grew out of discussions among members of the Coalition for Science After School, a group of approximately 40 science education and afterschool organizations, researchers, and advocates. The Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley took the lead in conducting the review process with support from the SEDL National Center for Quality Afterschool.

In the article "Science by Stealth," published in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week, Lucy Friedman from The After-School Corporation and Jane Quinn from the Children's Aid Society, both founding members of the Coalition's steering committee, point out that 75% of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences report their passion for science was first sparked in non-school environments. This validates the Coalition's confidence in the use of fun academic enrichment activities in afterschool programs to nurture student interest in science and to support literacy and mathematics learning, as well. See the Coalition's Web site for more information.

What do kids think of the chance to engage in the kind of hands-on science promoted in the activities on the SAS Consumers Guide? Take a look at comments from some LHS workshop participants from the Summer of 2009. If you have videos of your students/program participants talking about what they've accomplished in your programs, e-mail us so we can add them to the Web site.


Development of the Guide
The SAS Consumers Guide was created to share information about sources of high-quality, hands-on science content for afterschool programs. Inspired by the popular Zagat Survey restaurant reviews, developers at LHS began in July 2005 with an open nomination process, asking afterschool practitioners to recommend programs and/or materials that they themselves had used or seen in action and found to be of high quality.

Next, Coalition members reviewed all nominations and selected those that seemed most promising. Each of these selected resources then received a written commentary from one afterschool and one science content expert who were asked to examine the quality and accuracy of the material, its social and entertainment value, its appropriateness for the afterschool environment, and its durability and cost. Click here for a description of the evaluation criteria used to evaluate each resource.

We have also added videos descriptions to better showcase afterschool materials. The four example videos below are from LHS afterschool science programs using materials similar to ones in the guide. Video descriptions are a great way to demonstrate how materials translate into actual afterschool activities and real opportunities for kids to "do science" while having fun. We hope to add more videos descriptions to the guide in the future.

LHS Solar Session

Build It Up - Take It Apart

LHS Plant Chemistry

LHS Quantum Session

About the Resources
Programs and materials in this guide comprise a wide range of resources, from fully developed multi-year curricula to idea books to a series of units to kits focused on specific topics. They also vary in the amount of science expertise required to use them well, the costs associated with purchase and use, and other factors. Every resource will not be suitable for every instructor, setting, or budget; thus, the reviews should be read carefully before considering a purchase. We hope you find the information useful. Please give us feedback at