A U.S. Department of Education study found that only 16 percent of high school seniors are interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, education and math (STEM), despite the fact that STEM employment is far outpacing non-STEM job growth.
To address this shortfall, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is making science education a priority in its 4-H Youth Development programming. During the 2015-16 program year, Michigan 4-H youth explored science, engineering, and technology through 262,000 4-H experiences in fields such as biological sciences, environmental sciences, rocketry, mechanics, consumer sciences, renewable energy, computer sciences, robotics, animal sciences, and plant sciences. Youth who participated in three hours or more of 4-H science programming showed significant increases in their attitudes and interest in science, as well as their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Among youth surveyed, 91 percent reported they were excited about new discoveries; 90 percent said they use information to make decisions, and 90 percent indicated they liked science. The research also revealed that Michigan 4-H’ers are more likely to pursue STEM disciplines in post-secondary education. Of those who earned a bachelor’s degree, 45 percent of Michigan 4-H’ers graduated with a STEM degree, a rate 11 percent higher than the Michigan average
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