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4-H SET trains volunteers to engage youth in science actvities

The Issue

Despite the United State's rich legacy of innovation and global contributions, we face declining proficiencies and workforce shortages in science, engineering, and technology. Nationwide only 18% of high school seniors are proficient in science while only 15% of U.S. college graduates earn degrees in natural science and engineering. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that effective science education requires good educators.

What Has ANR Done?

The 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Initiative endeavors to help meet this challenge. The California 4-H SET trains 4-H adult volunteers, teens and staff to incorporate science, engineering, and technology content into 4-H projects and activities.

In February 2009, more than 200 4-H adult volunteers, teens and UC 4-H staff gathered at five locations in California for a 4-H SET Workshop. All of the ­sites followed the same agenda: science education facilitation using inquiry in experiential learning, delivery in club and camp settings, and partnering with campus and community collaborators. Participants were introduced to these curricula – The Power of Wind, Give Robots a Hand, Oak Woodland Wildlife, It Came From Planted Earth, and Youth Development through Veterinary Science.

The Payoff

Over 200 improve their skills as science educators

Post-workshop surveys demonstrated the effectiveness of this training on the competencies and confidence of 4-H adult volunteers, teens and UC 4-H staff to provide science education to 4-H members:
* 80% of the respondents indicated that they are most or very likely to change one or more of their teaching practices as a result of the workshop.
* 81% of the workshop participants replied that the workshop mostly or absolutely enhanced their abilities as a facilitator.
* 84% of the respondents were somewhat or very likely to conduct a 4-H SET Training in the next six months.

Clientele Testimonial

"The experiential learning exercise was an 'Ah ha!' moment for the participants." "I've spoken to a classroom teacher who attended the workshop and she is already adapting parts for her third-grade class."


Supporting Unit: 4-H Youth Development Program

Sharon Junge, Acting State 4-H Director, skjunge@ucdavis.edu; Richard Mahacek, Merced County Director, rlmahacek@ucdavis.edu; Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Santa Cruz 4-H Advisor, lschmittmcquitty@ucdavis.edu; Martin Smith, UCD Vet Med Extension, mhsmith@ucdavis.edu; Steven Worker, CA 4-H SET Coordinator, smworker@ucdavis.edu