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.

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 2020, 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.

Hey, STEM Specialist! (Internal to Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H)

Need some help with your programming? Have a suggestion? Want to provide anonymous feedback to the 4-H STEAM Extension Specialist? Click on the hyperlink above for access instructions to the Qualtrics survey.

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.

PYD STEM Overview/STEM Theme Areas

How to Identify Effective STEM Activities for Children

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!

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.

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.)

National Agriculture in the Classroom:

Utah Discover 4-H Clubs/Curriculum:

Click2Science Professional Development

Teach Engineering

Science Buddies

Bay Backpack

University of California STEM Resource Hub

Purdue Extension/Indiana 4-H

Science Museum of Virginia YouTube Channel:

Virginia State Parks (Backpack Program-Public Libraries, Free State Park Access)

4-H Computer Science Playbook

CS First


National Science Teacher Association

Animal Science Anywhere

Zoonotic Disease Activities

4-H Afterschool Agriculture

American Farm Bureau Free Resources

My American Farm

EPA Environmental Education for Students

NASA Kids Club

WSU 4-H Learning Links

Michigan 4-H 84 STEM Lessons You Can Do At Home

Hackerrank (free computer science resource)

Cybersecurity Challenges at Hackerrank

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

Cybersecurity Guide and Resources for K-12

STEM Activities & Labs: Cost Effective Activities for Middle & High School Students

Discover Your World with NOAA

Engineering is Elementary

American Chemical Society

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Physics Educational Technology Simulations

Science Learning through Engineering Design

Smithsonian Institution Fun Stuff for Kids and Teens

United States Geological Survey Kids

American Society of Civil Engineers: Just for Fun!

The Ultimate STEM Guide for Kids: 239 Cool Sites About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Kids and Coding: Resources for Educators

Meet the Lab

Carolina Biological Teacher Resources

Bottle Biology

Wisconsin Fast Plants Lessons

Game Changineer (create a video game by coding!)

Virginia 4-H Water Science Kits for Kids

4-H Polymers (NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers/4-H)

4-H STEM Challenge

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

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