Summer is here, and many students are pursuing hobbies, outdoor activities and other fun outside of the classroom. For those who want to experience summer fun and keep learning, camps and programs through 4-H can provide a happy medium. 4-H, which provides youth programs in many different fields, is a great way for kids to keep up with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) interests over the summer and year-round.
If you or your child is interested in building a future in STEM in your Southern State (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia are covered in this post), find your local 4-H club. 4-H offers programs in every county in the country, so you can easily find a program that fits your interests close to home. See below for some of the many opportunities students have for interesting programs this summer and beyond.
In fact, the main engineering event for Delaware 4-H is a Tractor engineering contest. In this competition held by the University of Delaware 4-H extension, contestants show their knowledge of these machines and engineering prowess. Kids looking for additional STEM opportunities can check out the summer offerings at Delaware Technical Community College. Offerings include Mad Scientists camp, Minecraft Camp, Jurassic World Survival Camp, Star Wars Force Academy, Droid builder, Health career exploration and how to become a meteorologist.
Florida puts an emphasis on science through ocean life and ecology. The annual marine science camp, presented by the University of Florida 4-H extension, focuses on both fresh and saltwater marine life and aquatics. Other scientific opportunities include the 4-H University Workshops, with subjects covering biological engineering, aquatic habitats, wildlife and natural history and veterinary medicine. Living in the Sunshine State has additional perks. The Florida extension hosts an annual 4-H day at Legoland, with fun activities and family discounts for state 4-H members.
The University of Georgia’s 4-H extension takes STEM seriously, even at the beach! The annual Marine Resources camp on Tybee Island includes sessions in beach ecology, marsh life, crabs and critters, sea turtles and shark dissection. Georgia’s additional five 4-H centers also focus on environmental education as well, with overnight environmental education field trips, projects and environmental class offerings such as astronomy (the study of the stars and planets), entomology (the study of insects), stream and forest ecology, herpetology (the study of reptiles) and geology. Those interested in pursuing indoor STEM experiences can check out Georgia Tech Day Camps for sessions on robots, logic circuits, and building computers.
The University of Maryland extension encourages its 4-H members to get competitive. The state office holds several challenges for 4-H students, including an aerospace challenge, a LEGO Mindstorms Challenge and a Robotic engineering challenge in which robots must drive themselves to complete a task both autonomously and under the control of their creators. Maryland is luckily the home to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Every year, the center holds an annual Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering and Research (Sister) program which encourages middle school girls to get hands on with science experiments and consider future STEM studies and careers.
The North Carolina State University-run 4-H extension provides multiple opportunities for members to be active in their communities throughout the summer. Specifically, the North Carolina State Electrical Congress encourages members to understand the science and social issues involved in energy extraction, making kids more aware of the science that surrounds them every day. Outside of 4-H, North Carolinians passionate about STEM fields have many opportunities. In Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College provides many summer experience camps such as “Make Your First 3D Video game”, “Crime Scene Investigator” and “Build Your Own 3-D Printer”. If you live in Hickory, check out the North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies at Appalachian state university.
The Clemson University Tigers are ferocious as they step onto the playing field and the University’s state 4-H extension holds equally fierce challenges in STEM fields. The Clemson 4-H club holds statewide engineering challenges in many fields, including GPS, Rocketry, Bridge building, Robotics and Energy topics. 4-H opportunities in South Carolina aren’t only about competition. The state’s Science on the Move initiative provides local 4-H clubs and participating schools access to resources in diverse topics such as environmental science, health science, biology, robotics and engineering.
The Virginia Cooperative 4-H Extension is a partnership between Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. The extension’s many special interest (SPIN) clubs include 4-H Lego robotics for kids who want to build and create. For those more interested in organic science, Virginia Tech has a virtual farm experience that helps kids learn the ins and outs of agricultural and animal science. If you aren’t a 4-H member, you still have plenty of STEM opportunities in Old Dominion. Over the summer, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech both host computer science camps at their respective campuses. UVA also hosts the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science camp featuring instruction in aerospace, electrical, materials and mechanical engineering.
Though the first 4-H summer camp was held in Randolph County, West Virginia, the state’s 4-H camps have evolved past the agricultural based “corn clubs” as they were called back then. Now, in addition to outdoor and agricultural camp offerings from the West Virginia University 4-H extension, middle schoolers interested in science and technology can attend the extension’s STEM camp and learn about science subjects such as chemistry, optics, energy and nanoscience. Additional STEM summer camps in the state include Marshall University’s Exploring Engineering Program
The Southern U.S. has tons of local opportunities for continuing and strengthening STEM education. 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 lesson plan. With this list of STEM resources, you can continue your STEM education from home.