1762 Views
  1. Anne Stevenson
  2. Extension Educator and Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. 4-H, NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers, Univ of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth...
  1. Alexa Maille
  2. 4-H STEM Specialist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cornell University
  1. Jennifer McCambridge
  2. https://csp.umn.edu/team/jennifer-mccambridge/
  3. Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers
  1. Amie Mondl
  2. Extension Educator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. 4-H, NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers
  1. Laura Seifert
  2. Managing Director NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers, University of Minnesota
  1. Dr. Martin Smith
  2. https://ucanr.edu/sites/youthscientificliteracy/
  3. Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of California Agriculture and Natural...
  1. Dr. Steven Worker
  2. 4-H Youth Development Advisor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of California Agriculture and Natural...

Center for Sustainable Polymers

NSF Awards: 1901635

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult learners, Informal / multi-age

We highlight an innovative collaboration between the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP), a Center for Chemical Innovation, and 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization (part of Cooperative Extension/USDA). 4-H Educators from MN, CA, and NY and the CSP together developed guided-inquiry-based curricula  that offer sustained learning experiences for youth in grades K-8. Curricula were developed for three age levels and designed for delivery by volunteers, program staff, and teen teachers in informal learning settings. 4-H focuses on broadening participation in STEM in non-formal learning settings, in partnership with community organizations, schools, and industry. This video highlights adaptations made for virtual and hybrid-learning settings due to the pandemic, in particular our Teens-as-Teachers model. 

Sustainable Polymers-Plastics of the Future for a Green, Clean World/ 4-H STEM Curriculum,  is designed to support informal science educators, many without science background or comfort in leading STEM experiences. Educators in school settings will also find it useful.  Each level offers 10+ hours of experiential learning, a hallmark of 4-H. It is available as a free download. Youth explore: properties of materials, the impacts of  traditional plastics and emerging work on plant-based (bio) plastics, the sustainability loop, material engineering design concepts, and refusing/reducing/reusing of materials. Older youth engage in community-based action projects to address real-life plastic issues.

Curriculum builds the eight Practices of Science and Engineering (NGSS), utilizes a guided-inquiry approach, and provides guidance to incorporate best practices for gender-equitable STEM learning from our partners with the PBS program SciGirls. 

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (38 posts)
  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 10, 2021 | 07:06 p.m.

    Welcome to our video and resources! We believe you will find this collaboration between 4-H and the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers a worthy model to explore.

    Educators in non-formal learning settings as well as K-12 educators can discover three levels of free curriculum to engage young people as change-agents around real-world plastics issues. We've tested a teen-teaching model using hybrid delivery methods during the pandemic.

    We're eager to get your perspectives on:

    1. How have you seen youth become change agents around plastic issues? What excites you about working with youth in the topics of plastics and sustainability?

    2. What kind of settings might you imagine using the curriculum in?

    3. We have evaluated materials using youth surveys. Do you have suggestions for how you have evaluated youth learning beyond surveys of youth participants?

     

  • Small default profile

    Patty Riedel

    K-12 Teacher
    May 12, 2021 | 08:46 p.m.

    It's amazing all that 4-H does.  So many people don't realize the impact that Extension has on kids and families.  Give children a chance to learn and then teach and then will move mountains!!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Anne Stevenson
  • Icon for: Laura Seifert

    Laura Seifert

    Co-Presenter
    Managing Director NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers
    May 12, 2021 | 10:37 p.m.

    Thank you for your comment, Patty. I will respond from the Chemistry side of this partnership to say I agree 100%. Our Extension partners bring an extensive knowledge base to the project and their reach in the communities they serve is unparalleled! 

  • Icon for: Tracey Sulak

    Tracey Sulak

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 12:22 p.m.

    I love your project! I participated in 4H throughout my childhood, but I never thought about how it could be used to foster a love of science! 

  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:28 p.m.

    Thanks Tracey!  It is so exciting to be part of that spark for youth and adult and teen volunteers!  Science is everywhere, of course and it is very easy to "find" it in every 4-H project!  

    You might be interested in a new article, Reimagining STEM Workforce Development as a Braided River (Rebecca Batchelor) https://eos.org/opinions/reimagining-stem-workf... I see 4-H and other youth-serving orgs. as an essential part of this model! Thanks for your post!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kimberly Elliott
  • Small default profile

    Joanna Tzenis

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2021 | 01:08 p.m.

    What a great video. I'm impressed with the breadth of the partnership and how you've blended the expertise of scientists and youth development professionals to create a curriculum that engages youth in a scientific process that builds skills while also inspiring them to change the world for the better. I'm curious if you've considered longitudinal approaches to evaluating this program. I imagine, for example, learning about plastics at age seven can shapes choices and decisions as youth grow and change through time.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kimberly Elliott
  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 01:11 p.m.

    Thanks Joanna!  The longitudinal evaluation question is an intriguing one! We haven't thought about it with younger youth but have with the older youth and the current teen teachers who are primarily middle school aged.  We have mostly discussed this in terms of leadership development at this time, but your question makes me think about it. Something for our team to discuss! Thanks for you post!

  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 11, 2021 | 01:22 p.m.

    I agree with Anne, great question! I think it might be a good idea to think about a longitudinal evaluation after we complete our professional development efforts next year. Perhaps we could find a state program that would be interested in partnering with our team. We could engage their educators who have received professional development and are familiar with the curriculum. That would provide for an authentic context. It would be an interesting and extremely worthwhile undertaking.

  • Small default profile

    Kay Marren

    K-12 Teacher
    May 11, 2021 | 01:33 p.m.

    It's amazing how many families you are reaching through this program.  One good thing about the pandemic has been realizing how underused technology has been in reaching more kids.

    Looks like a very well-organized and well-run program.  Congrats!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kimberly Elliott
  • Icon for: Jennifer McCambridge

    Jennifer McCambridge

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity
    May 11, 2021 | 02:15 p.m.

    Thank you for your comment, Kay! When we originally developed the curriculum modules, we focused on activities that could be done "anywhere" with household or low-cost supplies since 4-H happens in so many different settings. That turned out to be really important during the pandemic! It definitely made it possible to have groups meet virtually and have youth do activities in their own homes.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kimberly Elliott
  • Icon for: Caitlin Martin

    Caitlin Martin

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 01:34 p.m.

    What an inspiring video! This seems like a curriculum that could be picked up by a number of informal learning environments, especially community-based organizations, to really dig into issues in their local area. I wonder if evaluation/assessment could happen at the community level as well, like changes in recycling rates or community priorities. How you are sharing/marketing the materials to potential educators/organizations? The teen-youth mentorship piece is especially interesting, as informal spaces look for ways to engage teens in authentic ways and give them leadership roles in the community -- can you say more about that part of the work? Thanks for sharing!

  • Icon for: Jennifer McCambridge

    Jennifer McCambridge

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity
    May 11, 2021 | 02:55 p.m.

    Thanks, Caitlin! I think evaluating community level change is a great way for youth groups to evaluate the impacts of their projects. For many youth, especially in older grade levels, there is interest in activism and advocating for changes in their schools and local communities.

    Our team has shared these materials through various conferences (for example, for 4-H educators or through the National Science Teachers Association). We are also making these materials available on our own web portal, 4HPolymers.org, as well as the National 4-H Shop. Besides these targeted conferences and word-of-mouth, we're still looking for ways to best share the curriculum!

    As for the teen mentorship, using "teens as teachers" is a common model in the 4-H system (and I imagine a model utilized by other organizations!). We're working to create two supports for teens in grades 9-12: 1) content knowledge in polymer science, and 2) pedagogy techniques. These two supports will help teens gain the necessary expertise to lead the polymer science activities for younger youth as well as effective teaching strategies. For teens that might not have teaching opportunities, we're also providing resources to help teens develop their own community-oriented research projects.

  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 03:03 p.m.

    Caitlin,

    I'll just add that the Gr. 6-8th curriculum (accessible on our 4hpolymers.org website) may give you some additional ideas of how we have framed out the youth engagement aspects. This age group can identify any number of ways to dig into issues; we lay it out in a matrix of various strategies, including citizen science, Youth Participatory Action Research, service learning, and others.  

  • Icon for: Candice Woods

    Candice Woods

    Manager, Development and Partnerships
    May 12, 2021 | 12:38 p.m.

    What an amazing project! I love the concept of using teen teachers to help inspire elementary and middle school learners. Are you using the youth surveys to evaluate both the learners and the teen teachers? 

  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 12, 2021 | 12:44 p.m.

    Candice,

    Thanks for your comment. We have evaluated youth outcomes using surveys. The teens-as-teachers component is just being rolled out, but I am certain we will be developing strategies to measure outcomes associated with their experiences working with younger youth.

    Regards,

    Martin

  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 01:05 p.m.

     Thanks Candice!

    For the teen teacher program we highlighted in the video - this was a program only used in Minnesota at this point (and also a test of a model that will inform our full team's development of the larger Teens-as-Teachers approach currently in progress).  We have offered the program in fall and spring. In fall, we did informal evaluation with the teens through dialogue during weekly reflection and at the end of the program's 4 weeks.  This spring, we are working with our evaluation specialist in our Center for Youth Development, to develop a survey for the teens.  We have also done weekly reflection with the teens and we asked them how they preferred we capture what they have learned through the experience. They all said "a survey" mainly due to time constraints with end of school year demands. So we will be doing an eval in qualtrics and following up with the teens to get everyone's input (there are 9 teens who taught in spring). I'd be happy to share our survey tool with you if you'd like to see it! 

    In addition, we are receiving feedback from the evaluations by parents of the younger youth who participated, giving input on the impact of the teen superheroes' role, so we have some good anecdotal feedback on how the teens really made these younger youth feel welcome, valued and that they "belonged" in 4-H. For many of the younger youth, this is their first, or one of their first experiences with a 4-H program, especially due to the pandemic, so this is a very critical role that the teens play!

    Thanks for your interest!

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Candice Woods
    Kimberly Elliott
  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Facilitator
    Former Program Officer (NSF)
    May 12, 2021 | 04:11 p.m.

    Your project is a good combination science learning coupled with possible change in habits and action.  Joanna Tzenis' comment reminded me of how the smoking curricula impacted our sons fifty years ago.  They made life uncomfortable for their cigarette-smoking grandfather when he visited.  None of them smoke today.  Could you do some evaluation on how the participants in your program are affecting the choices made in their homes.  Is there an impact on use, recycling and reuse of plastics in their homes?  This is also a much-needed example of how changes in our scientific understanding should and can change how people act.    

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Laura Seifert
    Anne Stevenson
  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 12, 2021 | 04:16 p.m.

    Gerhard,

    Excellent suggestion. Once we move past the development phase understanding the actual impacts of applied knowledge and skills needs to be a subsequent step. Thank you.

    Regards,

    Martin

  • Icon for: Rita Karl

    Rita Karl

    Senior Managing Director of STEM Media & Education
    May 12, 2021 | 05:48 p.m.

    As a partner (from SciGirls!) I just wanted to give a shout out to your  tremendous cutting-edge work and it's critically import educational outreach. Great video and terrific project. Thank you. Your center is so crucial to how we will evolve as humans and build a sustainable future for us and the planet. 

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Anne Stevenson
  • Icon for: Laura Seifert

    Laura Seifert

    Co-Presenter
    Managing Director NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers
    May 12, 2021 | 06:00 p.m.

    Thanks, Rita! As you know incorporating the SciGirls Strategies directly into the modules was a way for us to make research-based gender equity strategies approachable and accessible to any one facilitating our materials. Much respect to you and your team!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Katie Hessen
  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 12, 2021 | 07:50 p.m.

    Thanks, Rita. Much appreciated. Our California team hasn't had much direct contact with SciGirls, but through our colleagues at UMN we know how important your organization has been re. conceptualization and development of these resources.

  • Small default profile

    Brian McNeill

    May 12, 2021 | 09:16 p.m.

    This is a great opportunity for young people to get involved and make a difference. What a great way to learn! Thank you for sharing this work and your partnership.

  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 10:05 p.m.

    Thanks Brian! We are excited to test out the gr. 6-8 curriculum now with in-person opportunities!  The teens (who were mostly MS aged youth, some were 11 or 12 years old) really showed leadership through the 4 week Superheroes program we used as a hybrid model. It will be exciting to try this with more face to face experiences. Thanks for checking out our video!

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 10:31 a.m.

    What a great project! I'd love to test some of these ideas in my course for pre-service elementary school teachers. 

  • Icon for: Anne Stevenson

    Anne Stevenson

    Lead Presenter
    Extension Educator and Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 10:45 a.m.

    Hi Danielle, 

    Thank you! I'd love to hear more and connect further with you! I will watch your videos as well to learn more about your work and projects.

  • Icon for: Alexa Maille

    Alexa Maille

    Co-Presenter
    4-H STEM Specialist
    May 13, 2021 | 10:55 a.m.

    Thank you, Danielle! That would be wonderful! You can explore the project website to download the curriculum.

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 11:06 a.m.

    Thank you Anne and Alexa - I will check out the resources. We are building out some programs for pre-service teachers and K-12 students at UCSB that focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and making formal and informal connections. Sounds like there might be quite a bit of overlap and possibly opportunities for collaboration. 

  • Icon for: Joselina Cheng

    Joselina Cheng

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 02:11 p.m.

    Great video!!  Excellent adaptation of existing 4H activities and education with emphasis on sustainability by engaging young learners.

  • Icon for: Steven Worker

    Steven Worker

    Co-Presenter
    4-H Youth Development Advisor
    May 14, 2021 | 08:50 a.m.

    Thank you! We've enjoyed learning more about the history, prevalence, and future of plastics ourselves as we've designed the curricula. 

  • Icon for: Yolanda Abel

    Yolanda Abel

    Facilitator
    Associate Professor
    May 15, 2021 | 12:55 p.m.

    Love the across the age span aspect of this project; especially the K-2 grade band. It my opinion, it is critical to get learners invested when they are young and then foster that interest throughout the P-12 learning experience. 

  • Icon for: Jennifer McCambridge

    Jennifer McCambridge

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity
    May 16, 2021 | 03:31 p.m.

    Absolutely, Yolanda! We were excited to start development at the K-2 grade band as there was a lack of STEM (especially physical sciences) material for youth that young. It was sometimes a challenge to translate what sustainable polymers are for youth that young but I think we made it work!

  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 17, 2021 | 01:01 p.m.

    Yolanda,

    Thanks for your comment and your interest in the K-2 age group. We agree that it's critical to reach young learners with content, but also delivering that content using effective pedagogy. As Jennifer stated, we think we've made it work!

    Best,

     

    Martin

  • Icon for: Nav Deol-Johnson

    Nav Deol-Johnson

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2021 | 05:50 p.m.

    Great example of relevant, age-appropriate content - love the video!   I'm working with Imagine Science.  We are a partnership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Girls.Inc, Y-USA and the National 4-H Council and focus on working collaboratively to increase STEM opportunities for underserved youth.  Many of the local teams are using 4-H curricula in OST settings with the Teens as Teachers program model.  We have been using the PEAR CIS survey and Dimensions of Success program quality observations for evaluation.  One of the current projects is the CIDSEE Data Detectives Clubs. 

  • Icon for: Steven Worker

    Steven Worker

    Co-Presenter
    4-H Youth Development Advisor
    May 18, 2021 | 11:42 a.m.

    Hello - thanks for the kind words about our work and video.

    I am really happy to hear that Imagine Science continue seven years later!! I was at the original meeting in Chicago, May 2014 representing Orange County, California. I've since moved positions to 4-H in the San Francisco North Bay (Marin, Sonoma, Napa counties). Are there currently any Imagine Science sites in California? 

  • Icon for: Nav Deol-Johnson

    Nav Deol-Johnson

    Informal Educator
    May 18, 2021 | 12:54 p.m.

    We still have an Imagine Science project in Orange County - currently working with Rita Jakel at 4-H.  We have also expanded from Dallas, Omaha and OC to add Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Lancaster, NYC and St. Louis. Looking to add 5 new communities by the end of 2022!

  • Icon for: Steven Worker

    Steven Worker

    Co-Presenter
    4-H Youth Development Advisor
    May 18, 2021 | 01:20 p.m.

    Awesome! Happy to contribute to efforts in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. 

  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 18, 2021 | 02:46 p.m.

    Nav,

    Any particular states? If so, you might consider reaching out to state program leaders to see if you can find interested communities.

    Best,

    Martin

  • Icon for: Dr. Martin Smith

    Dr. Martin Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Faculty Member
    May 18, 2021 | 02:47 p.m.

    Nav,

    Amazing work you're doing! Glad to hear you're using 4-H curricula and the Teens as Teachers model. We work hard to design our work to be used by other nonformal education programs. I'm glad to hear it's working!

    Best

    Martin

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