Do you think technology makes our lives easier?

You can help youth evaluate the value of technology.

Does technology make our lives easier? What do youth in your life think about technology? The Michigan State University Extension science and engineering team is dedicated to increasing science literacy across Michigan and provide programing to increase STEM awareness and involvement. STEM is the acronym that refers to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. One component of STEM awareness is evaluating whether technology makes our lives better. The answer depends on who you ask.

For many people living in rural, isolated areas, telemedicine has been literally a lifesaving piece of technology. However, someone who has had their credit card pirated may have a different story to tell. There is no question that technology has changed how we live our lives. Smartphones, computers, smart cars and the internet are just a few pieces of technology many people use today.

You can help youth evaluate the impact of technology on their lives by encouraging them to think about when and how they use technology. You might discover that you need to define or establish some parameters for what is considered technology after the initial investigation. Encourage youth to keep a journal for a day or a couple of days, tracking all the technology they think they use. Ask each youth to share one piece of technology they used and record it, and keep going around until no one has anything else to add. If you kept a journal, add pieces not covered by the youth. At this point, the youth should realize everyone has a slightly different idea of what technology is, and it is time to define the parameters for your technology evaluation.

After defining the parameters, have each pair or group of youth list the technology used along with positive and negative impacts there may be. After allowing time, go around the group again and have each group add a positive or negative impact until they are all recorded. Next, ask the question again, “Do you think technology makes our lives easier?”

The most important part of any scientific investigation—yes, you just did science—is the data analysis. When youth tell you or each other that technology does or does not make our lives easier, allow lots of time for them to explain why or why not. You helped them investigate how they use technology, the impacts both negative and positive, now it is time for them to make their own conclusion based on the information collected. This is science in action.

For more ways to share science with youth in your life, please explore the MSU Extension Science and Engineering webpage. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office. To learn more about 4-H and Extension opportunities in Alcona County, stop by our Harrisville office at 320 S. US-23 or visit our Alcona County MSU Extension Facebook page.

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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