STEM programming for 4-H clubs or at home – Part 3

Discover easy ways to introduce technology while working with youth in out-of-school settings.

America is facing a national shortage of young people with skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which is resulting in a significant workforce shortage in STEM fields. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has a strong history of mobilizing volunteers to work with youth through hands-on learning experiences, which makes the program a natural fit for helping children generate an interest in science which then propels them to a desire to gain knowledge and skills.

Consider how 4-H volunteers can introduce technology in their work with youth. Simply defined, technology – as used in 4-H STEM – is the use of resources or tools to help solve problems to achieve a goal or perform a function. In today’s information age, technology is all around us. We are at a point in history when technology can be seen in every aspect of our lives. It is not at all uncommon for the members in 4-H clubs or programs to be much more comfortable and knowledgeable about technology than the adults working with them. However, the advantages of increased efficiency, knowledge gain and ease of communication makes using technology very important for the 4-H program.

The following are a few fun and simple activities to help you see how easy it is to incorporate the use of technology in your work with 4-H youth:

  • Learn more about the horse and pony project utilizing the internet by visiting the Virginia 4-H Virtual Horse Farm with your club.
  • For those interested in rocketry projects, use different types of launching equipment to see how technology can provide the air/water pressure or electrical current to propel a rocket. Youth can also experience many great space adventures on the NASA website
  • Fitness project members can use GPS units or their smartphone to participate in geocaching or track their physical activity online using a phone app.
  • Members in clothing and textile projects can include technology into their clothing and projects with the 4-H STEAM Clothing series
  • Use the United States Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate resources to help 4-H gardening project members find recipes and plan meals from locally grown foods.
  • 4-H clubs, regardless of their project focus, can utilize social media for club communication. Be certain to discuss this with the 4-H Youth Development staff to become familiar with 4-H online communication policies and explore Digital Citizenship videos, citizenship pledge and activities on the Common Sense Education website.

The possibilities are endless; it is not about creating new activities for your club or program but simply continuing the work you already do and intentionally exploring how to incorporate technology into your 4-H work. You’ll be surprised how using technology can expand members understanding of the project.

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.”

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