West Virginia University will send 11 student ambassadors to WVU Extensions’ 4-H program’s camps and University events across the state to provide science, technology, engineering and math-based activity education.
The students are majoring in fields such as aerospace engineering, health sciences, computer science and physics. They will use projects like Lego Robotics, bridge building and geocaching to teach students STEM-related disciplines. This is the second year WVU has send ambassadors.
STEM ambassadors will serve 27 counties this summer. While organizers were unable to expand the STEM ambassadors reach from last year, they pursued providing them to counties who were not served in 2012.
“WVU’s mission as a land-grand institution is to provide service and outreach throughout the state,” said Steve Bonanno, WVU Extension Service interim director. “Our STEM program helps provide role-models for our 4-H campers across the state and gives them access and opportunities to new STEM-based education.”
Organizers say that the response of the 4-H camps and the demand for the ambassadors’ presence across the state exceeded their highest expectations.
“Many of our STEM Ambassadors grew up in small towns just like these campers,” said Alicia Cassels, WVU Extension specialist for literacy and academic success. “Through our ambassadors, children see that going to college and becoming a scientist is something that they can achieve.”
Cassels sees room for growth in the program with the ultimate goal of having an ambassador in every county.
Kathleen Baker, computer science and women’s studies double-major from Morgantown, is already developing an activity for her position in the 4-H camp in Fayette County.
“The theme this year for that camp is pirates,” Baker said. “With the new geocaching program, it’s perfect for treasure hunts. We’ll have different prizes set up all across the camp and break the kids up and see what they can find.”
By tracking items through geocaching, campers learn valuable map-making skills and GPS navigational technology.
Returning student ambassador Randy Ratcliff, a biology and chemistry double-major from Kingwood, recalled a moving experience from last summer.
“I had a six-year-old camper come up to me last year and say, ‘I am going to be a scientist!’ It instantly validated my entire Ambassador experience,’” she said.
The STEM Ambassadors program is made possible through collaborations with WVU Extension Service, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.
To see if STEM programming is offered at your county’s 4-H Camp, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service. To learn more about 4-H programs, visit www.4-hyd.ext.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
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