Why is Out-of-School STEM Important?

STEM education is based on four specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM integrates these four disciplines into a cohesive curriculum based on real-world application. We believe our 20 Skills that Make STEM Click are essential to effectively implement STEM in out-of-school time settings.

Take advantage of out-of-school experiences to teach youth more about STEM!

Why STEM?

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) pervades every aspect of our lives. High quality STEM experiences develop critical thinking skills, increase science literacy, and enable the next generation of innovators. By increasing youth’s science attitude, identity, and engagement, we can have a positive & lasting impact on the youth in our programs. Skilled and trained frontline staff and volunteers are one key to raising the quality of STEM experiences in out-of-school time.

High quality, well-facilitated STEM activities encourage youth to be curious, ask questions, and make connections with the world around them; essential skills for success in life and in our global economy. STEM skills are needed for navigating the modern world and competing in the 21st century job market. Programs for youth in out-of-school time can be part of the solution and help ensure that our youth have the skills they need to successfully access available opportunities.

Did you know...

  • By 2018, there will be 1.4 million American computing job openings, but only 29% of those are expected to be filled by U.S. graduates.
  • 75% of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences report that their passion for science was sparked in a non-school setting.
  • Over the course of a year, only 18.5% of a K-12 student’s waking hours are spent in school.
  • Civil engineers are expected to have employment growth of 24% between 2008-18, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Youth that regularly participate in high-quality out-of-school time programs: have fewer absences, have better behavior, and get higher grades.
  • Worker in STEM occupations earn 26% higher wages than non-STEM workers.
  • Employment of mathematicians is expected to grow by 22% between 2008-2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Find more interesting out-of-school STEM facts here.

See What People Have to Say

Trainers

Why do you feel STEM learning is important?

“The fact is the combination of science, technology, engineering, and math makes things possible for things we never even knew existed. This reminds me of a unit study we homes choolers like to use as an option versus studying subjects individually. We can incorporate math, geography, science, history, and language arts all at the same time which makes it more interesting, and those connections make learning much more interesting helping us to see the bigger picture of what we learn just as connecting dots brings out the complete picture.”

Soonhee Green, 4-H robotics SPIN Club adult volunteer

“It helps prepare our future generation to explore new ways to use medicine, food, and space travel.”

Pastor Tommy Smith, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

“A basic understanding of STEM is essential for our youth. Science and Math are necessary so they better understand how the world around them functions and know how to participate in such basic activities of daily living such as paying bills, counting change, and making sound economic choices. Engineering concepts teach kids to identify goals and devise a sequential plan of action to accomplish these goals. In this age of rapid technological advances, a basic understanding is essential for students so they can utilize resources and navigate their way around this high tech world.”

Margie Nahass, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

What impact has STEM learning had on the children/youth with whom you work?

“Currently I am involved in a 4-H SPIN Club that concentrates on robotics as a part of STEM learning. We meet once a week with 10 kids of different ages, but every one of these kids is able to contribute to STEM learning with their own level of understanding. We contribute tasks to each kid according to their abilities and interests which all eventually helps them come to understand the science, technology, engineering, and math elements from just working together to build robots as a team. Also in our field trips, kids are learning how STEM is part of every field of interest. For example with a visit to the Washington University Young Scientists Program in St. Louis, the kids learned even in medical fields, science is incorporated with technology to help people in ways that involve engineering and math.”

Soonhee Green, 4-H robotics SPIN Club adult volunteer

“STEM has opened new dreams and possibilities for the youth of America. A great example is my daughter who dreams one day of being an astronaut.”

Pastor Tommy Smith, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

“My work with inner city youth at Christian Activity Center thus far has focused on our soon-to-be-planted community garden. We have explored soil science, germination, hydroponic gardening, how plants utilize the soil and sunlight for food, the effect of greenhouses on germination, etc. We utilize the computer to research our topics and have watched a 4-H video that explored where our food comes from which prompted a conversation about occupations within the food industry. This allowed them to think outside of their community and entertain possible career paths. We will be measuring our garden, calculating fertilizer application needs, and determining how much material we will need in the gardens. We hope to design trellis supports, signage, and drip irrigation which will involve planning, strategy, and construction for each project. These kids learn much of this at school, but to be able to apply this information and expand their fund of knowledge in a fun, creative way is so rewarding and adds another layer to their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math. I am not a teacher by trade but love to work with these kids. Having ‘Click2Science’ as a resource for myself and the kids would be such a tremendous help! Additionally, for those volunteers 'on the fence' who fear they are not qualified to 'teach', I believe the ‘Click2Science’ portal will draw more volunteers to 4-H knowing that such resources are in place to assist them.”

Margie Nahass, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

Frontline Staff

Why do you feel STEM learning is important?

“In this age of rapid technological advances, a basic understanding is essential for students so they can utilize resources and navigate their way around this high tech world.”

Margie Nahass, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

What impact has STEM learning had on the children/youth with whom you work?

“STEM has opened new dreams and possibilities for the youth of America. A great example is my daughter who dreams one day of being an astronaut.”

Tommy Smith, 4-H gardening SPIN Club adult volunteer

Youth

What do you like about doing science activities?

“I get to help teach kids to do things and learn things they didn’t know or know how to do. It makes me feel like I'm making a difference in their lives.”

Dontral Spates-Flowers,“Teens Teaching Youth Biotechnology” Program 4-H teen teacher