How do you know youth are understanding STEM concepts?

Making the most of 4-H interactions can help youth better understand STEM concepts.

Many 4-H Youth Development programs involve research-based curriculum that helps youth develop skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Youth who participate in these programs are often better able to see STEM as a tool to help them understand their world and think critically about the issues in their lives. When engaging youth in STEM activities, how can you be certain they are connecting the experience to STEM knowledge? Some simple strategies to assess STEM learning might include:

  • Clearly stating or posting the goal or purpose of the activity before it begins. After the activity is complete, ask youth to evaluate it to determine if the goal was achieved.
  • Asking open-ended questions and listening to the answers and discussion.
  • Asking youth to summarize, in writing or verbally, their observations about the activity.
  • Observing the youth as they engage in the activity and communicate with their peers.

These strategies and others can help you assess STEM learning in youth and help youth develop skills that will lead them to success in life. Click2Science, a professional develop resource for out-of-school time educators offered by University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension and the Noyce Foundation, has a Planning for Learning skill video that provides an example on how to assess students learning the engineering process.

For more ways to share science with youth in your life, explore Michigan State University Extension’s Science and Engineering webpage. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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