Spark an interest in STEM through robotics for Cloverbuds

Grow 4-H in your county by engaging Cloverbuds in robotics activities.

The need to spark youth’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is significant. What better way to spark this involvement than through a Michigan State University Extension 4-H experience? Michigan 4-H has endless opportunities to engage youth in STEM activities. Opportunities focused on robotics has grown and created interest with young people and their families. This can help meet the need to engage youth in STEM activities and allow 4-H to reach new audiences.

Robotics activities can be designed and implemented for the traditional club setting, after-school programs, SPIN clubs and one-time outreach programs. One great way to bring robotics into the 4-H experience is through cloverbud activities. Cloverbud programs are designed for young people between the ages of 5 and 8.

National 4-H has a variety of resources that can help staff and volunteers easily implement robotics without having a STEM background. First, there is variety of training modules available on the 4-H Robotics Curriculum page. Second, the 4-H Mall offers Junk Drawer Curriculum and material kits that include a wide range of activities.  

Junk Drawer robotics is the perfect place to start implementing robotic activities for Cloverbuds. These activities are designed to be a fun and engaging way that allows youth to think creatively and critically as they use everyday items. The Clipmobile Challenge from the Junk Drawer Curriculum is a great starting point as Cloverbuds will practice their engineering skills as they work to design a vehicle that will go down a ramp while carrying a small paper clip box. When working with this younger age range during robotics activities you want to consider:

  • The safety of the youth by ensuring there are older teen and adult volunteers to operate hot glue guns, drills and a hand saw.  
  • Spend extra time to prepare and prep the supplies. For example, holes can be pre-drilled in craft sticks and wheel accessories.
  • Cloverbuds learn through touching, seeing and doing. Understanding that this age range of youth needs to involve as many senses as possible. Guide them versus making them fit the activity.

A vehicle created with paperclips, straws, craft sticks and bottle caps may be the spark in building a future in STEM for youth. It also may engage them in a long term 4-H experience.  Cloverbud aged youth are always looking for fun and creative ways to explore their interests. Therefore, with the importance of STEM in today’s ever changing world, 4-H robotics is the perfect first step to get youth involved. To learn more about how you can become involved in Michigan 4-H, check out the Michigan 4-H website.

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