2017-02-16 / Editorial

Science matters, MSUE offers resources

Connections
By Nancy Persing Roscommon County 4-H Program Coordinator

Science is not confined to a textbook, with pictures of scholarly men in lab coats on every other page. Science is magic, it’s messy and can be a lot of fun. A few years ago SET (science, engineering, and technology) was the buzz word when you talked about sci­ence. Then they added math and called it STEM. Adding art to the mix and calling it STEAM may not make sense at first, but we really do need to integrate innova­tive design solutions into STEM problems.

We use science skills every day. When our bread doesn’t rise, we try to discover what happened. We check the weather before we decide what to wear in the morn­ing. If our garden doesn’t grow, we try to find out why. If we want our children to learn more about science, we just need to help them think things through. Science skills include observing, ques­tioning, predicting, testing ideas, noting information and communi­cating thoughts. When we practice these abilities, we are building a solid foundation in science skills.

Young children are naturally curious and are great at asking questions. Why is the sky blue? Where does the water go? What does a bug eat? Science is a way to learn about our natural world, how it works, and how it got to be the way it is. Science begins with a question about an observa­tion. Engineering begins with a problem, based on an observation. When we encourage our youth to make observations, ask questions, design solutions, test ideas and discover answers about our world, it helps them to develop critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills.

The National 4-H Council has surpassed their goal of engag­ing more than one million youth in science programs. Michigan State University has made science education a key focus in state 4-H programming. During the 2014-15 program year, more than 187,000 Michigan youth explored STEM through 4-H projects. Our county 4-H program also focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) skills. Youth in our summer day camps have flown drones, built and wired small structures, launched rockets, constructed underwater robots, completed circuits, written computer code and completed National 4-H Science Experi­ments. They’ve prepared slime, built bridges, created bionic arms and crafted solar cars. They also made Oobleck by mixing 100 pounds of cornstarch with water. This created a non-Newtonian fluid that does not follow the rules of science. They walked, jumped, hopped and danced on it without sinking, but when they stopped moving they sunk into the quicksand-like mixture.

There are many free resources to help you explore science with your family. Go to www.msue. msu.edu and type “science” into the search box. Some of the free resources that you will find are 4-H Animal Science Anywhere, 4-H Science Blast in the Class and Enquiring Minds Want to Know. There are also many other websites that have great science activities. You don’t need to have all of the answers to explore sci­ence with your children. Some­times it is more fun to discover the answers together.

For information, contact the MSU Extension office at 275- 5043 or persing@msu.edu.

This article was provided by Michigan State University Exten­sion. For information, contact the Roscommon County Michigan State University Extension office at 275-5043, msue.roscommon@ county.msu.edu or visit msue.anr. msu.edu/county/info/roscommon. The Roscommon County Michigan State University Extension office is located in the county building at 500 Lake Street.

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