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Showing posts from August, 2023

The role of coaches in facilitating learning through STEM

By Rebecca Meyer The Minnesota 4-H STEM program recently wrapped up the 2023 Engineering Design Challenge with in-person and virtual showcases . The youth and coaches who engaged in this year’s challenge theme "Take Your Best Shot and Celebrate" in honor of the program’s tenth anniversary demonstrated immense creativity and innovation, along with learning related to their understanding and challenges of simple machines but also of one another. One of my interesting observations among the various activities was some of the differences among the teams. For example, one team I was privileged to engage in deeper conversations with came together from multiple clubs in their county to form the team and had only been working together on the challenge (many for their first time) since May. This team not only had an exceptional machine that ran well when demonstrated, but they also seemed to work really well with each other. When asked what their favorite part of the machine was, one

5 tips for evaluating youth programs

By Samantha Grant Do you do something for work that comes so naturally it’s almost hard to explain it to other people? I’ve spent my career conducting evaluations with youth. Youth evaluation is a language I speak fluently. Last month my colleague John Murray and I presented to Extension staff in Pennsylvania about evaluating youth programs. In this session we had to translate what we naturally do as evaluators.  Maybe you’re new to evaluation or maybe you’ve been evaluating youth for years like me. From my experience, youth workers are natural evaluators because you are always asking questions about your programs. Have you found yourself thinking: How can I make this program better for youth? Why are youth struggling to come together as a team? What could I plan that would get youth engaged? If you nodded your head along with these questions, you’re a natural evaluator. (If you didn’t, start getting curious about your programs. Curiosity is a natural precursor to evaluation.)  If you

Artificial intelligence and the need for social emotional learning

By Kate Walker In today's rapidly evolving world, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives. From smart homes to autonomous vehicles, AI has the potential to reshape how we live and work. However, as this technology advances, there is a growing realization that young people must develop not only technical skills, but also social emotional learning (SEL). Youth programs can play a vital role in equipping the next generation with the social emotional skills crucial to thrive in an AI-driven society . Artificial intelligence refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as problem-solving and decision-making. Yet while AI can automate many routine tasks, it cannot replicate essential human qualities, such as empathy, creativity, and critical thinking. Here’s why social emotional skills are needed to successfully navigate the complexities of an AI-driven society: Empa