Excited about science
Some people are surprised to learn my college degree is in the natural sciences. They often wonder whether I am able to use my degree in my job as a 4-H program coordinator. Although I may not do many of the things commonly associated with the sciences, I still find plenty of ways to use my degree, especially now with the 4-H program’s new emphasis on science, engineering and technology.
In Illinois, one of our youth education initiatives is “Science Excited.” Even if youth don’t plan to pursue a career in the sciences, having a basic understanding of science and technology is almost essential for young people today. It’s also important for young people to practice thinking like a scientist, as the scientific method can be used to learn and solve problems in many different areas.
Youth become more excited about science when they can experience the scientific process themselves and be the scientists. Science involves many tasks that interest young people, and that can be applied to other subjects as well; scientists inquire, explore, experiment, investigate, invent, engineer, design, create and discover. To provide youth with opportunities to do these things, 4-H science curriculum focuses on a variety of activities that may include hands-on projects, where youth work directly with materials; experiential activities, where youth experience something that happens in the “real world;” and inquiry-based activities, where the learner is the one asking the questions and designing ways to find the answers. Many of our new activities are designed to provide opportunities for inquiry, where caring adults guide youth in determining their own course of learning. The youth determine what questions to investigate, design experiments to test their ideas, and use the results to lead to new questions for study. Giving the learner control over the process provides opportunities for in-depth, individualized learning. It also teaches young people how to learn and how to solve problems.
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