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Studies show that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs enrich learning. Youth can learn STEM skills through interactive, experiential learning.

Comments on this page? Curator: Extension Educator Rebecca Meyer

Youth Development Insight blog

Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!

  • 6/16

    Science is hard work and that makes it fun

  • Rebecca Meyer

    Thinking of science as fun may bring youth to an activity, but they'll like it even more when they get to know more about the scientific process, challenges, and even the failures.

    Effective science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education demands balancing fun, interest-building activities and attention to the authentic aptitudes and dispositions that prepare youth for professional careers. All too often we emphasize the fun-factor and minimize the notion that "science is hard." Read more.


  • 4/16

    3 ways to help your volunteers and program staff facilitate inquiry

  • Anne Stevenson

    Imagine an after-school program in which second graders learn about chemical change by making pancakes. Or a club in which kids in fourth through sixth grades build a Rube Goldberg machine for a county competition. Or a group of teens re-engineering an underwater robot.

    How do you, as the adult guiding the learning experience, facilitate inquiry to best engage them and challenge deeper thinking?

    Read more.


See all STEM blog posts

Reports & journal articles

Citizen Science as a REAL Environment for Authentic Scientific Inquiry

Produced by Extension: Nathan Meyer, Siri Scott, Andrea Lorek Strauss, Pamela Nippolt, Karen Oberhauser, Robert Blair
Guiding principles and design strategies for the University of Minnesota Extension's Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project demonstrate how education and investigations grounded in real-world citizen science projects can capitalize on REAL environments to generate meaningful STEM learning. 2014.

Science of Agriculture Response: Integrating Science and Engineering Concepts into 4-H Youth Development

Produced by Extension: Joshua Rice
This poster presents the science of agriculture response (SOAR) program which will use an experiential learning approach that employs the skills gained from a 4-H project and requires students to demonstrate the acquisition of those concepts via a visual presentation. 2014.

4-H Science: Evaluating Across Sites to Critically Examine Training of Adult Facilitators

Produced by Extension: Pamela Larson Nippolt
As 4-H Youth Development focuses on developing and delivering high quality STEM learning experiences, the issues related to the preparation of the adults who facilitate learning with youth are important to address. This paper outlines a five-state pilot project funded by the 3M Foundation to test a model for training adult facilitators. (PDF) 2012.

Afterschool: A Vital Partner in STEM Education

Afterschool Alliance
This paper offers compelling reasons to include afterschool programs as integral partners in STEM education and highlights several existing models for providing infrastructure and building capacity to enable afterschool programs to facilitate high-quality STEM learning. (PDF) 2010.

Minnesota CYFAR Impact Report 2010

Produced by Extension: Minnesota CYFAR Project
CYFAR (Children, Youth, and Families At Risk) focuses on strengthening the ability of middle school-age youth to set and achieve short and long-term educational goals by using an innovative and organic afterschool program model that is highly experiential and offered more than 260 program hours on STEM and cultural enrichment to youth participants. (PDF) 2010.

Power of the Wind Pilot Project: A six-state partnership to engage youth with wind energy
Appendices B - I

Produced by Extension: Pam Larson Nippolt and Amy Grack Nelson
The process evaluation and related appendices from the Power of the Wind Pilot Project, a six state partnership to engage youth with wind energy. (PDF) 2010.

Examining 4-H Robotics in the Learning of Science, Engineering and Technology Topics and the Related Student Attitudes

Bradley Barker, Gwen Nugent, Neal Grandgenett
This study measures the effectiveness of a 4-H robotics program to support the learning of specific STEM concepts and to examine related student attitudes to science. (PDF) 2008.

Our past presentations

Exploring Inquiry & Expanding Learn-by-Doing Science (YD Brown Bag Webinar Series)

Anne Stevenson
In this webinar, participants explore key components of inquiry, strategies and tools for expanding learning, and resources to support staff and volunteers in their role as facilitators of inquiry. 2013. Read more.

Natural Spaces: A place for positive youth development
(YD Brown Bag Webinar Series)

Rebecca Meyer
This webinar explores the role of natural space and how to use it for effective positive youth development; it will include a focus on creating positive development experiences with nature during out of school time.  2012. Read more.

Digital Youth Network: Developing 21st century learners through the integration of overlapping affinity spaces

Nichole Pinkard, Ph.D.
Through a mix of during school, afterschool, and online spaces, the Digital Youth Network provides youth opportunities to develop and apply new media literacy in ways that are personally and academically meaningful to them. 2011. Read more.

MySpace, Facebook, and Youth: What Do Social Network Sites Have To Offer Youth Development?

Dr. Christine Greenhow
Youth have always been peer-oriented. Has online social networking changed anything for them? Greenhow presents emerging research on youth experiences in popular online social network sites and considers their implications for the field of youth development. 2009. Read more.

Youth as Contributors: The Role of New Media & Technology

Center for Youth Development and PEAR: The Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency
New technologies and media are playing an important role in the lives of young people and offering new ways for them to learn, engage, and contribute to their communities. This webinar explores the meaning of media literacy, highlights positive ways youth can and are using new technologies, and discusses the challenges and opportunities in doing so. Guests include Leo Burd, a researcher with MIT's Center for Future Civic Media and Karen Brennan also of MIT. The discussion is moderated by Dale A. Blyth from the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. 2011. Read more.

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