4-H Releases “Science Blast! in the Class” to 250 Michigan educators

New Michigan State University 4-H resource connects youth's in-school learning with real world experiences.

While students educational aspirations start high, many youth are getting disconnected or dropping out along the way. According to results from the High School Survey of Student Engagement, 92 percent of the 42,700 public school students surveyed expect to earn a high school diploma and 87 percent expect to earn a post-secondary degree. However, the U.S. Department of Education reports that approximately one in four students are not graduating from high school within four years.

Some researchers have described dropping out as a process in which students slowly disengage from school. According to the High School Survey of Student Engagement, 50 percent of students who thought about dropping out said they did not like the school and 39 percent said they did not like the teachers. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that 42 percent of students surveyed said they considered dropping out because they didn’t see the value and relevance of the work they were doing. Students are struggling to see how the science or math they are being taught has merit or use outside their place of education. Let’s be honest, how many times have you heard a student (maybe your child) ask, “am I ever going to use this again?” Educators (and I am one of them), must do a better job of building a bridge between class lessons and real world applications.    

Michigan State University (MSU) 4-H Youth Development is hoping to help bridge this divide with their newly released Science Blast! in the Class Teacher’s Guide. Michigan 4-H staff worked with MSU faculty, educators and teachers to develop a fun and engaging science resource specifically designed for use in formal classrooms.  4-H is now working in collaboration with over 250 educators across Michigan using this resource. There is not a one-type-fits-all solution, youth development programs like 4-H have been providing programs and resources that take classroom lessons and concepts and give them practical meaning through hands-on, engaging projects and experiments. Connecting in-school learning with real world experiences has become one of 4-H’s mantras. Providing learning opportunities that allow youth to experiment and determine the direction they go has helped foster creativity and engagement within the learning process.    

Science Blast! in the Class has 13 science lessons and experiments for students in K-12, with additional lessons under development. This curriculum can be accessed and downloaded online for free.  The resource was distributed to over 250 educators across Michigan in fall 2010 and 90 percent of the educators said Science Blast! in the Class will help them teach science to young people. Of educators surveyed, 92 percent said that they view Michigan 4-H as a resource for youth science education.

 To view and download lessons from this free resource please visit http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/science_blast.

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