Virginia Tech® home

STEM in Virginia 4-H

Image of Wilson GGUG
Dr. Chantel Wilson provides a Grass, Goats, and Uninvited Guests workshop to Chesterfield youth.
Image of Mars Base Camp Youth
A participant enjoying the Crop Curiosity activity in the 2020 4-H STEM Challenge: Mars Base Camp kit.

4‑H programs are available in Virginia through local 4‑H clubs, 4‑H camps, in-school and after-school settings. 4‑H science programs provide 4‑H youth the opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through fun, hands-on activities and projects. Integration of these concepts are key for the most complete understanding of a topic. STEM can be found in a wide variety of 4-H programming and in everyday life. In Virginia 4-H, we strive to incorporate STEM and experiential learning into as many of our activities as possible- enabling our youth to develop important life skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

What is STEM?

Many local Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and specialists have expertise or experience in STEM programming. Several of these agents participate in coordinated programming at the State level to provide professional development opportunities to educators or to execute action plans for new STEM initiatives. As of March 2022, these Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and faculty are currently engaged with the STEM Subteam of the 4-H Positive Youth Development Program Team:

Extension provides the public with research-based information and resources from its land-grant universities. 4-H is a Cooperative Extension program comprised of a community of more than 100 public universities, volunteers, and participating youth. In Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University are combined as Virginia Cooperative Extension to serve the public. 4-H Extension specialists support 4-H agents statewide, write curriculum, help to develop programming, develop statewide partnerships, and seek funding sources. 4-H agents work to deliver 4-H programming, manage 4-H volunteers, and directly engage with youth in their locality/county. 

How can I help support 4-H or STEM in Virginia?

  1. Are you passionate about STEM and enjoy working with children? Become a 4-H Volunteer! Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office today and see how you can get involved!
  2. Consider forming a partnership with 4-H at the local, state, or National level. Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, or speak to a 4-H Specialist at the State Staff level. This is a great chance to showcase what your organization does and how STEM learning is critical!
  3. 4-H is primarily supported through monetary and materials donations. To give monetary donations to 4-H, please donate here. You may choose a local 4-H program or you can choose to support STEM statewide by selecting State Program: VSU 4-H STEAM. The STEM program in Virginia 4-H is housed at Virginia State University (VSU), but funds are used in cooperation with 4-H across the Commonwealth. Monetary donations will receive a thank-you letter from the Virginia Tech Foundation/Virginia 4-H State Staff. Local agents or Specialists can work with you to receive materials donations.

National 4-H Curriculum Development Resources
Professional development and resources for those interested in writing 4-H curriculum. Virginia 4-H/Virginia Cooperative Extension professionals should submit items for review/publication at the state level to Dr. Erika Bonnett.

Next Generation Science Standards
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are national, research-based K–12 science content standards. These are useful when developing STEM curriculum.

Virginia Standards of Learning: Science (VA Dept. of Education)
The Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework comprise the science content that teachers in Virginia are expected to teach and students are expected to learn. Correlating 4-H learning experiences to these Standards of Learning will enhance and reinforce the in-school science learning experience.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Writing Effective Learning Objectives
Effective educational experiences should be constructed using learning objectives. Bloom’s Taxonomy is helpful when writing learning objectives targeting different levels of learning ranging from simple cognitive levels (remembering, understanding) to more complex cognitive levels (analyzing, evaluating, creation) characteristic of effective STEM learning.

PYD STEM Overview/STEM Theme Areas

VCE agents, specialists, and volunteers who engage youth in programming are encouraged to think about STEM connections broadly and use the STEM outcomes described here to aid in planning, evaluating, and reporting impacts of VCE programs.

4-H Science 101/Professional Development Toolkit
A training resource from National 4-H which is helpful in the development, delivery, and assessment of 4-H Science programs

4-H Science Program Design: 4-H Science Checklist
A helpful resource from Rutgers University. Includes promising practices, case studies, resources, and a seven-question checklist to determine if programs are “science ready.”

VA STEM Board: Unifying Virginia’s STEM Efforts
The Virginia STEM Coordinator, Chuck English, discusses the activities of the Virginia STEM Commission/STEM Education Advisory Board and STEM initiatives in Virginia as part of the Science Museum of Virginia’s Lunch Break Science series on Feb. 7, 2022.

Turning the Fog Into STEAM!
Dr. Chantel Wilson teaches how to incorporate science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math into learning experiences for youth at the V3: Virginia Virtual Volunteer Conference on April 25, 2020.

Grass, Goats, and Uninvited Guests!
Dr. Chantel Wilson and Dr. Dahlia O’Brien provide an introduction to parasitism in small ruminants (sheep & goats) as background information, followed by an introduction to an exciting new 4-H curriculum!

How to Identify Effective STEM Activities for Children
A resource from Baylor. Includes guiding principles and what makes a good STEM activity; a balance of interdisciplinary topics, real-world applications, teamwork, and multiple answers/ways to solve a problem.

WARNING: Some website links referenced here are not managed by Virginia Cooperative Extension, and it does not review, control, or take responsibility for the contents of those sites.

4-H STEM Challenge
National 4-H at Home Activities (STEM/science topics are searchable)
Virginia 4-H Resources for School Enrichment (Enroll For Site Access!)
National 4-H Curriculum and Kits:
Virginia 4-H Curriculum (select 4-H Youth, navigate topics, or search STEM, Science, etc.)
Utah Discover 4-H Clubs/Curriculum:
Purdue Extension/Indiana 4-H
University of California STEM Resource Hub
WSU 4-H Learning Links
Michigan 4-H 84 STEM Lessons You Can Do At Home
Arkansas 4-H Science (University of Arkansas Extension)
Maryland 4-H STEM (University of Maryland Extension)
Ohio 4-H STEM (Ohio State University)
West Virginia 4-H STEMCARE (West Virginia University)
Kentucky 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (University of Kentucky)
Massachusetts 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (UMass Amherst)
Illinois 4-H STEM At-Home Challenges (University of Illinois Extension)
Alabama 4-H Science & Technology (Alabama Cooperative Extension)
New Jersey 4-H Resources for Families (Rutgers) Museum of Virginia YouTube Channel:
National Science Teacher Association
Science Buddies
Click2Science Professional Development
Smithsonian Institution Fun Stuff for Kids and Teens
The Ultimate STEM Guide for Kids: 239 Cool Sites About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Meet the Lab
Center for Excellence in Education
Museum of Science, Boston
The Tech Interactive
Science Museum of Minnesota (Includes some free Educator Resources)
Google Teaching Resources
New York Hall of Science
Scistarter (Citizen Science Opportunities)

PBS Learning Media (Professional Development, Media, Lesson Plans)
Verizon Innovative Learning (Technology, Lesson Plans, Apps, Professional Development)
Tools of Science Videos (Rutgers)
Family STEM Cards (Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative)
Go Open VA (Virginia Department of Education- STEM Topics Searchable)


Carolina Biological Teacher Resources
Bottle Biology
Wisconsin Fast Plants Lessons
American Phytopathological Society Educator Resources (Plant Diseases!)
4-H Entomology School Enrichment Project (University of Florida IFAS Extension)

4-H Polymers (NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers/4-H)
American Chemical Society

4-H Computer Science Playbook
Game Changineer (create a video game by coding!)
CS First
Hackerrank (free computer science resource)

Cybersecurity Challenges at Hackerrank

MITRE ATT&CK (Advanced Cybersecurity for High School+)

Cybersecurity Guide and Resources for K-12
Kids and Coding: Resources for Educators

Texas 4-H Robotics (Texas A&M University)
Teach Engineering
Engineering is Elementary
Science Learning through Engineering Design
American Society of Civil Engineers: Just for Fun!
eGFI (American Society for Engineering Education)


NASA Kids Club
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Leland Melvin: STEAMography and STEAM Power Activities
Stanford Solar Center
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Parker Solar Probe
NASA Science (Includes Citizen Science Projects)
NASA 3D Resources
NASA Solar System Treks (Visualize, Explore and Analyze Other Worlds from a Spacecraft Point of View)
NASA Solar System Exploration

First Green: Turning Golf Courses into Classrooms (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Mars Base Camp: Explore a hand-on mission to Mars at home, image of contents of box

Send your kids to Mars! The 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge explores sending a mission to Mars with the activity, Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches kids ages 8-14 STEM skills like mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture. Use these resources to assist you with Mars Base Camp programming in your community! You will find STEM career videos, "how-to" overview videos for each of the activities, professional development webinars, relevant documents, and links to purchase materials.

For general information from National 4-H regarding the 4-H STEM Challenge, please visit

Mars Base Camp Facilitator Guides, Youth Guides, and Map Cards, and Mars Map

Activity How-To Videos and STEM Career Videos

4-H STEM Challenge: Mars Base Camp YouTube playlist

Professional Development Webinars:

During this webinar we will unbox the 2020 Mars Basecamp Kit, talk about how the kit works, and introduce marketing resources. We also will talk about how to reach audiences with the kit and introduce new diverse ways to use the kit with the new landscape that we will encounter this fall.

With COVID-19 changing how we deliver programs, one of the biggest question that is asked is how to do I deliver these new programs virtually or in a hybrid approach? This session will focus on learning about different ways to develop programs virtually, adapting programs to meet the needs of the audience both virtually and hybrid, and evaluating the learning experiences.

Prepare to head to Mars Basecamp with the 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge unboxing webinar. Learn about what's in the kit and how to facilitate the activities with 4‑H youth in this training dedicated to our 4‑H teen leaders.

Purchasing the Mars Base Camp Kit and Extra Materials 

Mars Base Camp Kit

Extra Mars Rovers

Mars Base Camp USB Drive with Educator Materials

Extra Mini Paratroopers

Mars Base Camp: Explore a hand-on mission to Mars at home, in Spanish