4H shares STEM education with Helena after-school program

HELENA – The Capital City is going to have a special guest who will teach instructors in the Helena after-school program how to make science more fun by demoing unique science experiments. 

The hope is that these fun science experiments will help develop an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math, STEM, and eventually help Montana's need for more engineers and scientists.  

Roubie Younkin, a Valley County 4H Extension Agent, will be training instructors in Helena with what she calls her ‘junk drawer robotics’ and will demo some of these to Helena teachers. She will be using common household items and plans to have teachers build tinfoil boats and many other things. Roubie says making things hands on really helps kids relate. 

“Kids love to learn using their hands,” says Younkin. “It’s fascinating to me all of the little things that go through their minds when you present them with a challenge and the solutions they come up with. Even as young as five and six-year-old kindergartens can say 'why don't we try this?'” 

Teaching other instructors to have enthusiasm is something Roubie really wants to relay during the workshop. She says once you do it, it becomes infectious because you see how much fun the kids are having. 

“The workshop we are doing is actually inspiring those teachers to go ahead and try some of these activities,” says Younkin. “They are very inexpensive, like the 'junk drawer robotics.' It’s things you have at home and you just pull them together and let the kids go and just see where their minds will go.” 

Roubie says teaching these hand-on activities for young students shows them the real-world applications of science and it will hopefully get them excited about the field. Approximately 400 kids participate in the Helena after-school programs and 30 instructors from 10 after school programs are expected to come to the workshop, according to the Montana 4H Foundation.  

Roubie says having the activities that show real life implications of STEM really pull together the ideas presented in school and help to show how they benefit our society and even our world as a whole.  

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