Existing Programs, Curriculum, and Lessons

4H/VA Cooperative Extension: 4-H is the youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Through 4-H, young people are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H's "learning by doing" philosophy of youth development. 4-H and the VA Cooperative Extension partner with afterschool programs by infusing curricula and training staff and volunteers of afterschool programs. Programs available vary by county and educational region, thus sites should contact their local 4-H office. Where STEM programs are available, 4-H/VA Cooperative Extension offer curriculum in areas of Animal Sciences, Plants, Soils and Entomology, Natural Resources, Environmental Sciences, Aerospace and Rocketry, Engineering, Technological Applications: Inventions. There are also resources for school and community gardens.  (STEM, environment, rocketry, engineering, technology, gardening, K-12)

Bird Sleuth: From Cornell University, these free lessons, activities, and kits, aimed at K-12 learners, focuses on birds to connect students to nature and biodiversity while using science and inquiry-based skills.  (STEM, environment, K-12)

The Center for Collaborative Classroom: Collaborative Classroom, an educational nonprofit dedicated to creating curricula that support the academic, ethical, and social development of children, has several STEM curriculum suited for OST programs. AfterSchool KidzMath offers games and story guides that help K-6 youth practice mathematical concepts in engaging ways, and build confidence in their abilities. The cooperative nature of the program fosters children’s ability to make decisions with others, be responsible for their own learning and behavior, and have equal time to practice math skills. Math Explorer is a collection of creative, hands-on mathematics projects, games, puzzles, art activities, and experiments designed for middle-school aged youth. The program is designed to be easy to use by facilitators with any level of mathematical knowledge. AfterSchool KidzScience, for youth in grades 3-5, is an inquiry-based science program designed specifically for out-of-school time. The curriculum is divided into 45-minute sessions on topics ranging from Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, and Astronomy. Science Explorer invites young people to participate in hands-on science activities and engage in inquiry. Activities are flexible ranging from 15 minutes or less to an hour or more in duration.

Code Studio: From Code.Org, Code Studio has fun, online coding courses for students from grades K-12, including Minecraft, Star Wars, and Frozen themed lessons. This can be used as a follow-up or in conjunction with Hour of Code. (STEM, coding, technology, K-12)

Crazy 8’s: Offered by the Bedtime Math Foundation, Crazy 8’s is a hands-on recreational math program for elementary-aged students. This free curriculum is divided into 32 weeks of activities split into four, eight-week kits. (STEM, math, elementary school)

eCybermission: From the US Army Educational Outreach Program, eCYBERMISSION is a web-based STEM competition that is free for students in grades six through nine. Students are challenged to explore how STEM works in their world while working as a team to solve problems in their community. Teams compete virtually in state and regional competitions and in-person through the National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE). (STEM, middle school, high school)

Exploratorium: Tinkering Studio: Exploratorium is a San-Francisco based museum, which holds their own Tinkering Studio. On their site, they offer free tinkering project plans that would be well-adapted to a Makerspace club.  (STEM, makerspace, K-12)

FLEET: The American Society of Naval Engineers has free lesson plans, readings, and a free STEM video game that you can download. Lesson plans are aligned to SOLs from grade 4 to 12. Students learn about forces, work with cutting-edge technology, engineer solutions by collaborating in teams, and participate in nationwide contests. Everything in the program is free and there are $1,000 grants to help organizations get started.

Girlstart: Offers free curriculum and lessons in STEM learning, directed towards K-12 girls. (STEM, girls, K-12)

Hour of Code: An international one-hour event that introduces computer science basics. Hour of Code can be held any time of year, but the sponsored event takes place in December during Computer Science Week. This website offers resources on how to run and promote an Hour of Code event, as well as free online tutorials. You can build upon the success of your Hour of Code event with Code Studio. (STEM, coding, technology, K-12)

Lego Robotics: Lego offers various robotics packages that consist of a Lego Robotics kit and corresponding curriculum, for elementary and middle-aged children. The site also includes resources for finding funding, as this is a product for purchase.  (STEM, robotics, elementary school, middle school)

NASA Afterschool Universe: Developed by NASA, this program for middle school students, consists of 12 sessions and covers astronomy basics, hands-on projects and a visit from a scientist or engineer. The website provides the full program manual. (STEM, astronomy, middle school)

Odyssey of the Mind: Odyssey of the mind is an international educational program for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.  (STEM, K-12, competition)

Plum Learning : From PBS Kids, Plum Landing offers environmental science lesson plans for ages 6-9.  (STEM, elementary school)

Science Buddies: Free STEM resources for K-12 youth including  Standards-aligned Lesson Plans and Hands-on Activities.  You can browse by subject area such as physical sciences, behavioral and social sciences, engineering and more. The STEM careers section boasts over 160 profiles with practical information including salary, education requirements, and what the job entails day-to-day, perfect for exposure to future career options.

Science Club: Developed in partnership with Northwestern University, teachers from Chicago Public Schools and Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, Science Club offers six units (Science of Food, Medical Mystery, Neuro Sports, Get a Grip, Science: The Movie! And Clean Water Challenge) with each unit consisting of 6-10 lessons, intended from small groups of middle-aged students. (STEM, environment, neuroscience, nutrition, middle school)

Science Olympiad: National STEM competition where student teams, from 3rd- 12th grade, compete locally and nationally in various challenges such as Meteorology, building mechanical devices, Food Science and more.(STEM, competitions, K-12)

TSA (Technology Students Association): Open to middle and high school-aged students that have completed technology education courses, students participate in numerous STEM activities and individual/group competitions such as Animation, Robotics, Medical Technology, Video game design and more.(STEM, technology, engineering, robotics, middle school, high school)

Resources for Popular Clubs or Programs


Edutopia: More tips on starting a Makerspace program. (STEM, makerspace, K-12)

Makerspace Playbook: A comprehensive guide for starting and running a Makerspace group.  (STEM, makerspace, K-12)

Renovated Learning: Includes a free Makerspace planning workbook, (STEM, makerspace, K-12)

School/ Community Gardens

Bird Sleuth: Provides tips and resources for starting or creating lessons based on school and community gardens (gardening)

The Edible School Yard: The Edible Schoolyard Network connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum. Contains a searchable database of resources such as lessons, recipes, and outreach for K-12 students. There are numerous resources for starting and maintaining a garden.(STEM, gardening, K-12, nutrition,)

Jump Start Your Garden: This guide from Agriculture in the Classroom in partnership with National Agriculture in the Classroom Program and USDA Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence Grants Program, includes tips and suggestions for elementary schools who hope to begin a garden or to enhance an existing one. The program is intended to help educators integrate the use of the garden into their science and mathematics curriculum and references which specific SOL it is aligned with. (STEM, gardening, elementary school, nutrition, SOL)

Kids Gardening: Kids Gardening provides resources for K-12 school gardens, including gardening tips and tools, educator webinars and resources, grant information and more. (STEM, gardening, K-12, nutrition)


Afterschool Tech Toolkit: From The National Afterschool Association, with support from Google, this website and corresponding guide, offers tools and resources for utilizing technology in programing, including promoting digital learning and weaving technology into afterschool curriculum.