As summer quickly approaches, millions of kids across the U.S. are preparing for a 2-month hiatus from schoolwork and tests. Though summer may be a favorite time of year for children, the long break from school may cause students to lose some of the valuable knowledge they’ve attained during the academic year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, the majority of schoolchildren lose about two months of math skills over summer break. Summer programs offer a great way to keep kids moving forward with their education, but finding local opportunities, especially in rural areas has not always been easy.
Fortunately, your local 4-H club or program makes it easier than ever to help find the perfect summer activities for you. 4-H runs local programs, clubs, and camps to provide kids with valuable experiences, often including hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. There is a local 4-H club in every state and county, so you, your students or your kids can continue learning and growing after school is out. Here are the best ways to find STEM programs if you live in the Western region of the U.S.
As America’s “Last Frontier,” Alaska provides an excellent space for STEM learning, especially natural sciences. The state’s 4-H chapter, run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, offers many opportunities to learn about Alaska’s natural wonders, such as the salmon lifecycle. For more information, please visit Alaska’s 4-H website.
The University of Arizona’s Agriculture and Life Sciences department runs the 4-H cooperative extension. Recent projects include the YOUniversity program for science at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. To find your Arizona 4-H opportunities, please visit the University of Arizona 4-H website.
The University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources’ 4-H involvement includes clubs, summer camps and after-school programs. STEM projects in the state range from animal and plant science to engineering, technology, and nutrition. Another opportunity to be involved in STEM is Stanford University’s Science in Service program, which helps kids get involved in various areas of STEM.
Colorado has some of the highest peaks in the country, and the state has reached great heights in STEM education. Colorado State University leads the state’s 4-H council chapter. One thing that makes Colorado unique is the Maker Trailer, a mobile maker space with tools and materials for making drones and electronics, and for working with 3D-printers.
While Hawaii is well known for its beautiful beaches, the state also has a vibrant agriculture and livestock industry. The University of Hawaii offers many programs that focus on the science involved in its agricultural community. For more information, please visit The University of Hawaii’s 4-H website.
Idaho is known as the Gem State, but STEM education focuses on more than just geology. In fact, the University of Idaho runs an active extension for 4-H Youth Development in natural resources, agricultural development and STEM learning camps. You can learn more at their helpful website and find activities specific to your county.
Montana is home to the Museum of the Rockies, but visiting it isn’t the only way to improve your scientific knowledge of the area. Montana State University runs a 4-H extension in the state, which has activities in each county and in seven reservations. With 200 4-H projects across the state, you’re bound to find the one that’s right for you.
Nevada is called the Silver State, but it’s going for the gold when it comes to resources for STEM education programs. The University of Nevada at Reno runs the Rockets, Robots and GPS/GIS program, which aims to advance students’ skills in rocketry, robotics, and additional technology for possible future career choices in aerospace, engineering and technology fields.
The Land of Enchantment has helped kids become enchanted with STEM education. With extensions from New Mexico State University spread out across the state, there is a lot to do. Not only does the state site include a lot of 4-H STEM events, but its learning games lab also helps to keep kids involved and engaged with science, math, and additional learning games. With the learning games lab, you can help remind yourself of proper math and science lab techniques without moving from your spot in front of the computer.
Douglas Engelbart, the man responsible for innovations like the computer mouse, was originally from Portland, Oregon, and many other inventors, technologies, and opportunities for STEM education have come in his wake. Oregon State University is working to foster young inventors, scientists, and engineers to fill future STEM positions. The University runs the state 4-H council, and helps to run camps, fairs, and competitions across the state.
Utah, the Beehive State, is buzzing with opportunities for STEM education. Utah State University runs many different clubs and programs for students interested in STEM. In addition to typical STEM fields of robotics, coding, and science, Utah’s resources offer additional programs such as archeology and a club focused on how-to survive the zombie apocalypse.
As the Evergreen State, Washington has deep ties to the environment and environmental science. But natural beauty isn’t the only thing the state has in abundance. Washington State University offers many different program types for those interested in sciences, engineering, or technology. To find a Washington State University program that matches your interests, please visit the state 4-H website.
Wyoming is nicknamed the Equality State and the University of Wyoming is working toward equitable STEM education. With its 4-H extension program, UW provides youth programs for rural counties and areas frequently overlooked for STEM resources. The University of Wyoming state site provides links to find 4-H programs in your area.
The western U.S. has tons of local opportunities for continuing STEM education over the summer. If you don't see your state above, please visit 4-H.org to find local 4-H opportunities by county. You can also find resources at the Institute for Broadening Participation's Pathways to Science website. If you still can't find what you're looking for, you can create your own STEM summer lesson plan. With this list of STEM resources, you can continue your STEM education over the summer from home.