The National Academy of Sciences – and many other sources – agree that children in the United States don’t get enough education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to compete in today’s world. In elementary school especially, teachers don’t have the time or resources to teach these subjects adequately.
In response, OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development worked with the Portland Metro STEM Partnership to develop STEM Beyond School, a statewide out-of-school program for students in the third through eighth grades. The program provides valuable expertise and resources to foster authentic STEM learning for youth at more than 26 sites across Oregon. Students get to choose the subject they’re interested in and get 50 hours of hands-on experience in projects like robotics, rockets, stream studies, forest management and water quality. Since they participate in subjects they’re interested in, the kids are more engaged.
OSU collaborates with the Oregon STEM Hub network and more than 75 partners representing government agencies, schools, industry, community colleges, and non-profits to bring high quality STEM education to both urban and rural areas of the state.
The STEM Beyond School project improves out-of-school youth programming by cultivating a vibrant and engaged SBS Community of Practice. This networked learning community of education providers and support organizations provide resources, training, and professional development.
Thousands of children have gone through STEM Beyond School – 900 in 2018 alone. Surveys show the students want to pursue more STEM education and interest continues to grow. At times, there was so much enthusiasm that students had to be turned away until another project came around. The program has been so successful that Oregon Department of Education funded OSU Extension continue to grow the program for the 2017-19 biennium.