For local 4-H chapters in Florida, including Leon County 4-H in the Florida panhandle, summer fun is synonymous with STEM. When people think of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – or STEM – it’s usually in the context of “STEM education.” But for these 4-H chapters, STEM is all about learning while having fun – especially in the great outdoors.
For kids and families in Florida – and outside the Sunshine State – Florida 4-H offers lots of fun, hands-on science, and technology activities to get engaged with STEM learning all summer long.
During the summer of 2017, with the help of a grant from HughesNet, Florida 4-Hchapters introduced nontraditional, hands-on STEM activities to hundreds of young campers, in addition to typical summer camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts, and sports. New STEM learners were introduced to the engineering design process with 4-H’s Rockets to the Rescue activity while those with more familiarity got to use drones and a 3D printer. They also had the opportunity to apply STEM to the natural environment to help address real world energy, water, and conservation issues.
Marcus D. Boston, Jr., Florida 4-H Extension Agent, couldn’t have asked for a better camper response: “The ‘hands-on’ science activities not only taught campers new science concepts but it also gave them a chance to play the role of an engineer while they problem solved different scenarios.”
Three years later, STEM endures as a summer favorite for Florida 4-H campers in Gulf, Bay, Franklin, Jefferson, Duval, DeSoto, Columbia, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach counties and two overnight camps—Camp Timpoochee and Camp Cherry Lake. And although Florida 4-H summer camps will not occur in-person this year due to COVID-19, that’s not stopping 1,400 youth from embarking on a virtual 4-H Adventure where they’ll get to experience all kinds of STEM activities—from animal science to environmental science to robotics—at home.