There are growing needs for a STEM prepared workforce, yet a declining number of young people are choosing to become our next generation scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists. American students score lower on tests of science and math skills than students in many other countries, both developed and developing. There are fewer degrees being awarded in the STEM disciplines. There are fewer young people going into STEM careers. In addition, there is a troubling lack of diversity in the ranks of aspiring scientists. All of these are causes for concern as the US moves forward in the 21st century, potentially without these critically important engines of continued economic development and success.
For more than a century, 4-H has engaged youth in projects on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, and natural sciences. Building on this history of hands-on science education, the 4-H Youth Development program is helping to grow and strengthen the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, engineers, and problem-solvers. Recognizing that youth in the U.S. are falling behind in these areas, the national 4-H program has made its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program a top priority. With 4-H and the Cooperative Extension system’s direct connection to the cutting-edge research and resources of the nation’s land-grant universities, as well as its established outreach programs and services, 4-H is strategically positioned to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math skills in youth throughout Colorado.
4-H science programs have been shown the increase youth interest, engagement, skills, knowledge and aspirations in STEM education and careers.
STEM in Colorado 4-H
To meet the needs of youth and the nation with high-quality Positive Youth Development programing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Colorado 4-H provides science, technology, engineering and math programs based on Colorado Academic Standards.
- Colorado 4-H provides opportunities for youth to experience and improve in the Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development.
- Colorado 4-H learning experiences are led by trained, caring adult staff and volunteers acting as mentors, coaches, facilitators and co-learners who operate from a perspective that youth are partners and resources in their own development.
- Colorado 4-H activities are led with an experiential approach to learning.
- Colorado 4-H activities use inquiry-based learning to foster the natural creativity and curiosity of youth.
- Colorado 4-H program facilitators target one or more of the outcomes on the 4-H Science Logic Model and consider the frequency and duration necessary for youth to accomplish those outcomes.
- Youth develop positive attitudes toward the development of STEM knowledge, skills, and abilities.
- Youth apply STEM knowledge and skills in club, community and academic programing.
- More youth pursue education and careers in STEM