Michigan 4-H builds youth interest in science

The “learn by doing” approach used by 4-H empowers youth to gain an understanding of science concepts beyond simple memorization of what they have been told.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife staff helping youth ID fish
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff helping Michigan 4-H Great Lakes Natural & Resources campers identify fish. Photo by Brandon Schroeder, MSU Extension.

Did you know that annually five million 4-Hers participate in science projects? 4-H has a long history of working toward engaging young people in science, engineering, technology and applied math programs. On-formal educational programs like 4-H empower young people to be true leaders and change their world. Independent research proves the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience; 4-Hers are four times more likely to give back to their communities and two times more likely to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities.

4-H programs’ hands-on approach gives young people guidance, tools and encouragement, and puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. 4-H empowers youth to gain an understanding of science concepts and not simply memorize what they have been told.

So how can we help youth maximize their ability to gain STEM knowledge and comprehension? It really is as simple as encouraging and supporting youth in asking questions and discovering answers. A member involved in a gardening project has a terrific opportunity to learn about chemistry related to soil science. Youth who are involved in market livestock projects have the chance to further develop their math skills as they calculate costs related to their projects. Members enrolled in shooting sports projects will gain practical knowledge and application of basic principles related to physics.

In addition to county-based choices, there are several state-level events with a focus on science. The Michigan 4-H Great Lakes Natural and Resources Camp is a fun and amazing outdoor hands-on learning experience conducted as a week-long annual camp on the northern shores of Lake Huron in Presque Isle, Michigan. The campers learn about our Great Lakes and the issues they face. At 4-H Renewable Energy Camp, youth will explore ideas, research and opportunities in the modern field of alternative energies as it relates to natural resources and agriculture. 4-H Exploration Days is a program that gives young people a chance to experience college life while learning new ideas and skills. Many of the sessions offered have a focus on science.

Youth can participate with the Michigan State University Extension 4-H program in a number of ways. To find out about opportunities for youth to enroll in a county-based 4-H club or program, or to learn about volunteer leadership options, contact your local 4-H program coordinator at your county MSU Extension office.

Michigan State University 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 2018 Impact Report: “Equipping Young People for Success Through Science Literacy.”

To learn more about MSU Extension, visit the MSU Extension website. To learn more about 4-H and Extension opportunities in Alcona County, stop by our Harrisville office at 320 S. State St. Harrisville, MI 48740, or visit us online at our Alcona County MSU Extension Facebook page or Alcona County Extension office page.

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