What is Out-of-School Time?

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (2000) defines out-of-school time (OST) as "A wide range of program offerings for young people that take place before school, after school, on weekends, and during the summer and other school breaks." The terms OST, afterschool, school-age care, and positive youth development are often used interchangeable, although they differ in the details.

Why Encourage OST Participation in the Carver Fair?

The Carver Committee is interested in having more Philadelphia OST programs participate in the Carver Science Fair because:

  1. Our overarching goal is to engage Philadelphia children in science exploration, engagement, excitement, and success. Out-of-school time programs serve students that might not otherwise have access to hands-on science or science fairs.

  2. There is a tremendous amount of local, regional, and national interest in infusing STEM into OST programming. We hope to help these programs access the Carver Fair, which already has established and accessible criteria, teacher training, web-based resources, and other opportunities.

  3. Where there is interest, there will likely be additional networking connections, staff and student resources, policy decisions, and possible funding sources.

Previous Barriers to OST Participation

Some OST programs have entered students in the Carver Fair. These OST programs often serve children from a single school, and their students are part of that school's quota of entrees. However, this quota system is one reason that more OST children and programs have not participated in the Fair. For instance, if a school "uses up" its quota of entrants, than there are no more spots available to that schoolÕs OST individuals or teams. It has been unrealistic to expect OST programs to know which of their students attend schools entering other Carver Fair projects. This has been especially true of OST programs that recruit youth from multiple schools and multiple grades.

OST Changes

To mitigate these barriers, the Carver Committee has created a unique application process for OST programs. Our intent is to 1) make it easy for OST programs and students to participate; and 2) not give schools a "back-door" way to enter the Fair and exceed their per-school project quota. Specific OST guidelines include:

1.   OST students need to complete the same ISEF paperwork, and adhere to the same Carver guidelines and timelines, as school-day students.

2.    In place of the Carver 4-6th grade and 7th-12th grade applications, we have created similar Carver-OST applications.

3.    The Carver-OST applications require proof that OST programs are managed by, or are themselves a 501(c)(3) organization.

4.    Each OST organization (not site) is limited to the same quotas as the schools: up to 11 projects in the Elementary Fair, and up to 44 projects in the Secondary Fair.

5.    OST programs serving children from multiple schools need to complete the OST application(s).

6.    OST programs serving children from the same school can complete the OST or the regular Carver applications. However, if these OST programs complete the regular Carver applications, they must be counted in and cannot exceed their school's overall project quota.

7.   OST applications should be submitted to the School District of Philadelphia (consult the "Carver Handbook" for dates and details).

8.   OST staff and students can participate in all Carver activities including professional development sessions, medal and Special Award eligibility, etc.

For more information about how OST participation in the Carver Fair, contact Nancy Peter at npeter@sp2.upenn.edu or 215-898-0640.