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Mono County 4-H shares science at 2011 summer camp

The Issue

Mono County 4-H shares science at 2011 summer camp
Youth at the Mono County 4-H Summer Science Camp pose at the starting line with their solar cars, built and designed that morning, ready to race.
California is facing a need for an increase in science education. In 2009, 58 percent of California students performed at or above the Basic level of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, lower than the national average. Additionally, there is a need to spark the interest of youth in a science career before they reach high school.

There is an increasing belief that the majority of science is learned out of school, and that the best way to spark the interest of youth in science is through free-choice or informal science learning. It is important to provide youth not only with increased science knowledge, but also with a sense that science learning can be personally relevant and rewarding.

What Has ANR Done?

In June 2011, the Mono County 4-H Youth Development Program created a three-day introductory summer science camp and delivered it in an area not served by 4-H. Two volunteers new to 4-H, along with many community partners, gave tours and workshops to the youth. A total of 18 youth, between the ages of 10 and 14, attended the science camp. Admission was free and lunch was provided to all participants and volunteers. Each day of camp focused on a different aspect of science, engineering and technology. The youth worked in a community garden, learned veterinary medicine with goats, toured a local working farm, volunteered with a local nonprofit doing trail maintenance, learned about their local watershed and toured the South Tufa State Park at Mono Lake.

This science camp also offered hands-on science projects that engaged youth in a fun and enjoyable learning environment. The projects offered were personally relevant. Youth each built a solar oven from a pizza box and simple kitchen supplies. They then baked chocolate chip cookies in their solar ovens and enjoyed their dessert at the end of the day. The projects offered were also rewarding. The youth designed and built solar cars and then raced them to test their designs. The youth were then given the opportunity to change, redesign and fix their cars to race again. This gave them a sense of reward in their own creation.

The Payoff

Sparking an interest in science

The youth who attended the science camp were more likely to indicate interest in pursuing a career in science. At the end of camp, youth were asked to participate in an optional survey. Eight students chose to complete this survey. One of the prompts was, “I think I would like a job in Science, Engineering, and Technology.” Seven students indicated that yes, they would like a job in engineering and technology. Five responded they might be interested in a job in science.

Contact

Supporting Unit:

Inyo-Mono Counties
 
Serena Dennis, 4-H Program Representative, sldennis@ucdavis.edu, 760-873-7854