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What is STEM?

  • STEM - an acronym for the core education and career areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Science – the study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment
  • Technology – the application of scientific knowledge for making, modifying, and using tools, machines, and techniques for practical purposes
  • Engineering – the application of science, technology, and mathematics, concerned with the design, building, and problem solving
  • Mathematics – the science of numbers, their operations, their quantity, and relationships; can be either abstract or applied within other disciplines

While each of these areas has its own independent value, they work together to provide the basic skills required across many disciplines. Together these core areas engage students through project based learning that utilizes scientific inquiry and engineering design. This learning style empowers youth to be creative, innovative, and to think critically. Team work and collaboration are also important aspects of STEM education.

Why is STEM important?

STEM education is about much more than ensuring that our future accountants, doctors, engineers, scientists, and technicians have the skills they need within their career fields. It is about ensuring that the entire population has the ability to observe, communicate, work as a team, problem solve, and do basic calculations. In addition to providing society with these basic life skills, STEM education is about ensuring that society is more STEM literate, especially as more and more aspects of life are becoming technology driven. For example, within the manufacturing industry, mundane and dangerous tasks have been taken over by robots and computers. These advancements have changed the dynamics of the workforce within the industry, creating a greater need for STEM literate laborers.

How does STEM fit into 4-H?

4-H utilizes a 'learn by doing' approach that's ideal for teaching core STEM areas. 4-H STEM utilizes experiential and inquiry-based learning in order to increase youth engagement within science, technology, engineering, and math. 4-H STEM concepts are based upon national science education standards and target the development of STEM knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Goals of 4-H STEM programing

  • Increase STEM interest and literacy for ALL students
  • Expand the number of students who pursue secondary education and advanced degrees
  • Increase the number of students who enter STEM careers
  • Broaden women and minority roles in STEM careers
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