Ohio 4-H blog brings STEM education to you virtually

Photo: CFAES

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Interested in experiencing the COSI sensory playground virtually through the 360-degree lens of a 9-year-old? Want to learn how to conduct a field trip around the world through the use of virtual reality? Have you ever wondered how to make your own lava lamp? 

A new website offered by the Ohio 4-H STEM program can show you all that and more. 

The Ohio 4-H STEM blog provides youths, teachers, youth development professionals, volunteers, and parents with hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math ideas that are applicable to students of all ages. 

The blog, which is organized by subject areas and categorized by grades K–12, offers engaging STEM programming that promotes and excites exploration and learning, said Mark Light, an Ohio 4-H youth development educator with Ohio State University Extension. Light also leads the 4-H STEM Design Team.

Ohio 4-H, the youth development arm of OSU Extension, offers 4-H programs to youth in all 88 of Ohio’s counties. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

As America’s largest youth development organization, Ohio 4-H, which served 171,983 students in 4-H clubs in all Ohio counties last year, emphasizes leadership and citizenship skills. Ohio youth, ages 5–19, participate in 4-H through community clubs, camps, schools, and short-term experiences. 

Light said the blog, which was started in March, was originally designed to demonstrate that 4-H offers STEM-based education statewide, and is available to all Ohio students, parents, and families. 

However, when schools and organizations were closed in the spring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blog became a nationwide resource for students and families seeking additional educational resources as they worked through homeschooling.

“The blog has become a great resource for Ohio 4-H professionals to keep providing relevant content during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Light said. “It’s also served as a resource for teachers and families who are having to provide online learning opportunities around science, technology, engineering, and math, through sharing STEM activities and other stay-at-home resources for youth.”

Ohio 4-H helps youth develop important life skills and relies on the experiential learning model, which emphasizes “learning by doing” through hands-on activities. Much of this learning revolves around projects selected by 4-H members. Working in partnership with adult leaders and volunteers, youths delve into animals, computers, public speaking, cooking, art, gardening, leadership, and environmental sciences, just to name a few.

The STEM blog is just one way in which students learn STEM through Ohio 4-H. Written by members of the Ohio 4-H STEM Design Team, the blog is categorized into multiple topic areas including physics, robotics, chemistry, technology, and virtual reality. 

Each post is also classified by whether the activity takes 15 minutes or less, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes. The posts are divided into age groups: grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12.  

“This helps educators search for activities that fit their subject matter, timespan, and grade band,” Light said. “It also highlights 4-H STEM programs statewide as well as the new virtual opportunities that are happening throughout 2020.”

To find virtual 4-H programming in your county, visit ohio4h.org. For an infographic snapshot of Ohio 4-H, click here.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Mark Light