Donald. T. Floyd, Jr (President and CEO of National 4-H Council): 4-H STEMs the Science Divide
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 10, 2012
"It wasn’t so long ago that the United States was one of the top nations in the world for scientific discovery and innovation. Today, however, science and engineering occupations make up the smallest of occupational groups in the U.S and only 1 percent of high school seniors are deemed advanced in science.
So, how do we as a nation regain our leading edge in the sciences? We believe that question can be answered and addressed right now by tapping into our nation’s young people. Currently, youth across the nation get the majority of their science education formally in the schools. But, pair that in-school experience with hands-on, year-round, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs that spark imagination and excitement, and you have a winning combination to engage more youth in future science careers. That’s exactly what’s happening today through 4-H.
For more than 100 years, 4-H has been at the forefront of actively connecting young people to the sciences. Currently, more than five million youth across the nation participate in 4H STEM programming in topics as varied as robotics, rocketry, wind power, GPS mapping, agricultural science, film making, environmental science and biofuels.
We know that if you can engage young people in scientific exploration early, those experiences provide the foundation needed to build a long-lasting interest in the field. And, we have the results to prove that 4-H achieves this goal. Youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner and a team of researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University have conducted The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The longitudinal study found that, when compared to non-4-H peers, young people involved in 4-H are:
- Two times more likely to get better grades in school;
- Two times more likely to plan to go to college, and
- Three times more likely to participate in science, engineering, or computer technology programs.
Now entering its fifth year, 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) has become the nation’s fastest growing event that inspires youth to get hooked on the fun and excitement of science. Taking place this October 10th, NYSD features a new National Science Experiment – The 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge – which introduces young people to robotic engineering concepts as they program a mini robot to address a simulated environmental spill. We hope that you can join us to celebrate this important day at an event near you. Go to www.4-H.org/NYSD to find a local event or check
out this year’s experiment.
Given the challenges of global competitiveness that our nation continues to face, the answer lies in pairing formal education with high-quality, out-of-school STEM programs, like those offered in 4-H, that provide a forum for youth and adult mentors to engage in scientific exploration and spark the interest of the next generation of our nation's scientists, engineers and mathematicians." -Donald T. Floyd, Jr.
On October 10, 2012, millions of young people across the nation will become scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). NYSD is the premier national rallying event for year-round 4-H Science programming, bringing together youth, volunteers and educators from the nation's 111 land-grant colleges and universities to simultaneously complete the National Science Experiment. Check out the how-to video below for this year's EcoBot Challenge!