Designing roller coasters in the school gym. Extracting DNA in the hallway. Developing alternative fuel sources on the playground.
Louisiana 4-H’ers are exploring careers in different areas of science, engineering and technology at their monthly club meetings.
“The students were so excited every week to explore different careers, said Kimberly Deville, Evangeline Parish 4-H agent and lesson team leader. “They loved jumping right in to see what kind of science they would see next. From grossing out because their gummies are made from bones to engineering that roller coaster just right, they had a blast!”
The educational series is a hybrid of the 5E model widely used among science educators and the experiential learning model, which is widely used by 4-H youth development professionals.
“Some of the 4-H’ers were pretty excited to learn about career potentials. In the fourth and fifth grades they are still discovering what they like in life, and I am sure many of them haven’t decided what they want to be in life, but many of them were excited to see how many opportunities are available in the sciences,” said Derek Landrum, Orleans Parish 4-H agent and lesson team leader.
St. Martin Parish 4-H used the lessons for launching topics for its Science, Engineering and Technology Project Club, which offers students in the fourth through sixth grades who are interested in SET an additional experience while in 4-H. During 2018-19, students met monthly and participated in the Ready, SET, Explore curriculum led by teens. To adapt the curriculum to fit into the project club setting, additional career exploration was conducted at each monthly meeting, giving the youth a deeper look at possibilities for their futures.
For example, the group’s favorite lesson was on how gummy bears are made and explored food, nutrition and animal sciences. To take this lesson a step further, St. Martin Parish 4-H members made butter in a jar and then acted like food scientists developing a new product by making different flavors of butter to their taste.
“The students loved the hands-on activities as well as making the connection between science and everyday objects like roller coasters, citrus fruits and gummy bears,” said Hannah Devall, St. Martin Parish 4-H agent. “Our students were able to investigate the theories behind everyday science and then explore possible career opportunities.”
When surveyed, 92% of the St. Martin Science, Engineering and Technology Project Club said that the science experiments and activities are fun, and 81% felt that the lessons taught them new things about science. The gummy lesson was the overall favorite of the group.
An additional 2,315 students are projected to complete the lessons throughout the 2019-20 school year.
The lessons are intended to serve as a “launching pad” for a larger conversation about career opportunities. Each lesson also highlights potential educational pathways, including university, trade and technical school opportunities.
“When students are ‘wowed’ with science experiments, it’s easy and fun to guide them into the career exploration process,” said Christina Hebert, Louisiana 4-H college and career readiness specialist.