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Showing posts from March, 2024

The power of authentic science inquiry

By Rebecca Meyer We have all probably seen the news stories annually of youth who compete for and even win national science awards for what is groundbreaking research to solve problems like clean water, prevent health concerns, energy, etc. These young people are obviously involved in authentic science endeavors as a part of their youth development—working with communities of science professionals on real world scientific efforts that build our understanding and capabilities to manage real-world challenges. As it turns out, research studies , as well as my own experiences, suggest that science authenticity can play an important role in enhancing how young people perceive the attractiveness and value of STEM learning. Over the course of my STEM teaching career, I have learned that there is a connection between engagement and authenticity. These are two fundamental dimensions we should be paying attention to as we design youth development programs. One project that encapsulates these

What does it mean to thrive?

By Savannah Aanerud What does it mean to thrive? The  4-H Thriving Model  is the root system for how 4-H programs successfully grow and cultivate positive experiences into the lives of our young people. It helps youth develop a growth mindset where key developmental outcomes are achieved. Karen Beranek explores this in  her blog  about how one must move beyond resilience to thrive. However, in order to truly help youth, volunteers and families thrive, we need to first consider how we as program staff are thriving. I want to encourage you to sit back in your chair and ask yourself, "Am I thriving?". Many of us are in "survival" mode while trying to encourage our youth to "thrive". How does that work? We see ourselves taking on a plethora of tasks, adding to our already long to-do lists. Our work can then seem like a checklist that we have to do each day instead of something that we enjoy "getting" to do. We are constantly pouring into our programs

Sparks for the future

By Sarah Odendahl It’s the time of year when “adulthood” is becoming a very real concept for many of our youth - college acceptance letters are arriving, tuition deposits are due, graduation ceremony and celebration plans are underway. When I think back to that time in my life, I remember lots of people asking variations of, “Can you make money doing that?” when I told them about my plan to major in theatre and music. It was the height of the Great Recession, so I can’t really blame folks - and yet, at 18, it was impossible not to be hurt by the lack of support from the adults around me. In 2011, Dr. Peter Benson of the Search Institute in Minneapolis gave a talk at TedxTC . He spoke about the research they were doing into “sparks” by asking youth, “Tell me what it is about you that gives you joy and energy.” In his talk, Dr. Benson defines sparks as “something that gives their life hope and direction and purpose” and explains the three different categories of sparks: a skill or talent