My Time at the CHISPA Institute

By Irma Lopez, Program Manager, New Economics for Women


I can’t believe it has been almost four years since we started CHISPA at New Economics for Women (NEW) Learning Centers. Coming to Washington, DC, for the CHISPA National Institute was a great opportunity to connect with other Affiliates who carry out the same work we do at NEW. At NEW, we want to inspire our community’s children to achieve their dreams of becoming a scientist, engineer, or astronaut!

Listening to Dr. Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance and a CHISPA Advisor, opened our eyes to the high demand there is for afterschool programs throughout the United States. It was extremely powerful to hear that for every child in an afterschool program, there are two who are waiting to get in—a staggering figure when one considers that there are currently 10.2 million children enrolled in an afterschool program. Additionally, it is important to note that parents also want to see more STEM activities in their children’s afterschool programs.

Lopez with NCLR staff and other CHISPA Institute attendees.
Lopez with NCLR staff and other CHISPA Institute attendees.

Meeting with our museum partner, California Science Center, at the CHISPA National Institute helped NEW understand how families can be more involved with their children during their time at home, for example, by exploring opportunities within their own communities. Parents don’t only have to visit the museum on CHISPA’s Family Day, but can also access special events or workshops. I learned how to follow up with parents and that these moments can empower the whole family. I also enjoyed the science activities we were exposed to at the CHISPA National Institute because it allowed me to experience what the children will be part of; feeling excited, curious, and energized is what every child should be experiencing in their afterschool learning.

Lopez took some time to explore DC monuments.
Lopez took some time to explore DC monuments.

I am thankful for this amazing opportunity that NCLR STEM has given to NEW. CHISPA’s activities support our enrichment activities, allowing children to explore science in a unique and fun way. Our vision is to expose children to areas of learning that are not typically offered in their normal school curriculum, inspiring them to become more independent, expressive, and empowered students. CHISPA has filled our classroom with learning, exploration, and creativity!

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