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Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

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Operation SMART

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  Afterschool Expert   Science Expert  

Review Synopsis: by afterschool program expert Maryann Stimmer

The Operation SMART (Science, Math And Relevant Technology) materials are an excellent resource for any afterschool program. The activities are fun, engaging, easy to plan, and easy to do. The physical science activities provide rich experiences, encourage critical thinking and creativity, and encourage girls to pursue careers in science and technology. The planning and training guide supports the afterschool staff for implementation.
Full Review:
The Operation SMART materials are an engaging, well thought out, quality afterschool resource. The materials come in a packet that includes The Power Project (activity guide), Seeds for Growth (training guide), Spinnerets and Know-How (planning guide), and a resource packet with materials for adults and students. The content-rich science and technology experiences are designed with girls in mind and include strategies to encourage their participation.

The Operation SMART materials are user friendly and suitable for the afterschool setting. The Power Project activity guide has background information for the facilitator and students, clear and easy-to-understand instructions, questions to help focus the inquiry, and resource material to help students who would like to continue their experience. The activities focus on physical and earth science activities—content areas where Girls Inc. reminds the facilitator that traditionally girls/women, people of color, people with disabilities, and children from low-income families are left out of the "science loop."

The well-written Power Project activities include strategies that encourage girls to explore science careers and introduce opportunities for girls to meet role modes in the sciences. The hands-on, inquiry-based activities are fun (Hovercraft Craft), use materials that are easy to find (Orange Juice Technology), and encourage creativity and critical thinking (Be an Inventor). The activities are success-based and stress-free experiences designed to build self-esteem in science and technology for girls.

The Seeds for Growth training guide can be used to deliver professional development workshops or as a resource to the facilitator. Spinnerets and Know-How (planning guide) gives information for full implementation—including approximate costs, equity strategies, and technology suggestions—all and sundry afterschool issues are addressed.

The Operation SMART materials are a good value for afterschool programs. Hands-on materials are not included but will easily be found at the afterschool site, supermarket, hardware store, or home. The materials are only available to Girls Inc. affiliates. Other organizations can bring Operation SMART to their site by collaborating with their local Girls Inc. affiliate.