Whether it’s shooting hoops or playing video games, there are a million ways kids everywhere spend time after school. Children in Los Angeles have another option, as well. After-school STEAM programs are a great way to keep kids entertained and engaged while preparing them for future careers.
Here’s a roundup of the leading after-school STEAM programs in the greater Los Angeles area.
This Pasadena-based education and resource center gives year-round workshops, labs, and classes for students of all ages. Equipped with a state-of-the-art makerspace and workshop, STEM World offers the latest technology tools for learning about STEAM subjects.
STEM World has two after-school labs: one for students aged five to seven; and one for students older than eight. The goal of STEM World is to keep lessons fresh and exciting so that students stay engaged and curious across all programming. Instructors and advisors are experts in their fields including robotics, astrophysics, and math.
The company states that its philosophy and mission has always been simple: “to inspire future scientists, because scientists are heroes too.” Whether you have a budding scientist or a space whiz, there’s something to foster every child’s interest at STEM World.
Kids Can Code
At Kids Can Code, students can engage in creative technology education that adheres to California common core standards. There are a number of classes, including a basic introduction to programming, which sets a strong foundation for learning not only how to code, but why knowing how to code is important. More advanced classes include game development and intermediate python.
Classes are held at locations across LA, including Pasadena and Santa Clarita.The nonprofit was founded by Chris and Priya Bradfield, who saw a pressing need for more advanced, real-world technology education in today’s schools. “We believe that a basic understanding of software engineering provides a set of fundamental skills that is vital, both to the child’s future and the future of the global economy,” they say.
They believe that technology and liberal arts education go hand in hand, with both being essential for helping the next generation become capable and self-sufficient in a technology-driven world.
Los Angeles Public Library
STEAM programs at Los Angeles Public Library locations offer students a wide range of science, math, and maker activities. Events occur weekly across different branches in the Los Angeles area, meaning there’s always something close to home. Some events engage the entire family in learning, and others are reserved just for the kids.
The library has different workshop series, such as Kids Maker Camp, STEAM program, Kids Craft, and Astro NASA-based camps. Learning STEM skills at a fun and informal place like the library allows students to enjoy technological education in a stress-free environment. Many of these events are also free, making them accessible to everyone.
Free to low income families, Venice Arts is an after-school and summer art mentoring and education program helping expand young minds through visual and computer arts. One of the main goals of Venice Arts is to amplify underrepresented voices by teaching participatory storytelling techniques. The school was founded in 1993 by Lynn Warshafsky and has been supporting the creative and technological growth of low-income students for over 25 years.
“With a focus on photography, filmmaking, animation, and comics, it offers a dynamic, experiential learning environment—with no more than 12 kids in a class and an artist-to-youth ratio of 1:3—that fosters creativity, arts knowledge and skills, and visual, digital, and media literacy,” says the organization.
Engineering for Kids
Engineering for Kids of Los Angeles provides educational enrichment classes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Specific areas of study include robotics, interactive engineering, and coding. All programs are focused on the engineering design process, which teaches students how to solve engineering problems successfully.
“At Engineering For Kids of Los Angeles, we inspire kids ages 4 to 14 to build on their innate desire for answers by exploring engineering concepts in a fun, hands-on way,” says the website.
Students who attend these after-school camps will gain exposure to real world skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and applied science and math. Engineering for Kids is focused on creating a supportive social atmosphere where students can connect with like-minded children on group work and collective learning activities.
Coding for Treasure
Coding for Treasure believes that a strong coding background helps students succeed across all disciplines. Founder Nirosha Nimalasuriya started the company to inspire children to be creators, makers, and inventors, rather than simply being passive consumers of technology. “Our goal is to cultivate in our students technical skills in computer science using an approach devised to inspire excitement and passion, instead of monotony,” she says.
Coding for Treasure differs from other camps on this list because it only offers private classes.
This means kids can have an at-home tutor after school or on the weekends to teach specific technology-related lessons. This is especially appealing to busy parents, as it allows students to engage in after-school programming without having to manage pickups and dropoffs.
Scholarships and financial aid to young girls interested in programming is available, serving Nimalasuriya’s goal of helping increase female representation in the tech world.
LA Conservation Corps After-School Program
The LA Conservation Corps after-school program exposes students to a wide array of academic enrichment activities and skills development. Alongside creative arts, youth development, math, and visual arts, STEAM activities are offered.
Field trips are also part of the program, with trips to museums and educational locations around the city. All of these programs are designed to help students cultivate social skills, self-esteem, and experience-based knowledge that can serve them both in the present and throughout their lives.
“In addition to a safe, worry-free environment, the After-School Program provides academic enrichment, tutoring, and mentoring services at elementary and middle schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District,” explains the program’s website.
LA Makerspace is dedicated to ensuring that students of all backgrounds have the chance to fully experience STEM education. Founded in 2012 by technologist and educator Tara Tiger Brown, the programs aim to equip students with a maker mindset and develop confidence, self-sufficiency, and problem-solving skills. In addition to teaching essential cognitive competencies, the nonprofit believes that makerspace education teaches children resilience, innovation, and the ability to earn more equal, higher pay at careers later in life.
“By training people who aren’t experts to help kids learn things like robotics and coding, we can scale STEAM education quickly and efficiently,” says the organization’s website.
ASTEME Learning Center
ASTEME provides an inspiring and supportive environment for students to explore the importance and possibilities of math. While many students tend to think they won’t use math in real life, ASTEM serves to change this misconception. The goal of these programs is to provide students with more choices and opportunities in their futures.
“Using project-based learning and our own city as inspiration, we help children find math in both the ordinary and the extraordinary; from the architecture that surrounds us to the technology that is so integral to our daily lives,” says the company’s website.
With the help of passionate educators, students in ASTEME after-school programs learn that math is everywhere — in music, art, science, and more.
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