Contests, Events and Resources

4‑H STEM programs provide youth with opportunities to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through hands-on projects that incorporate each of these four elements into the activities our educators and volunteers lead. STEM has always been part of 4-H’s history, as it has been providing hands-on learning opportunities for youth that incorporate science, engineering, and technology for over 100 years!

For more information about Maryland 4-H’s STEM opportunities, including those listed below, please e-mail Mark DeMorra, Maryland 4-H STEM Specialist, at mdemorra@umd.edu.

Project/Events

4-H STEM Challenge

4-H STEM Challenge

The National 4-H STEM Challenge is the premier national rallying event for year-round 4-H STEM programming, bringing together youth, volunteers, and educators to engage in a fun and exciting series of hands-on activities that touch on relevant topics in the modern world, including Computer Science, Astronomy, Engineering, Agriculture, Physics, and Environmental Science.

Launched in 2008 with Helpful Hydrogels, the 4-H STEM Challenge activities are designed for youth 8-18, and have included coding and animating a video game, building bristle bots, cleaning up an environmental spill, building a Mars Rover, investigating how to harness wind, and much more! The 2020 4-H STEM Challenge reached over 500,000 youth with the "Mars: Base Camp" kits, created and distributed in partnership with Google, Toyota, Bayer, and Maryland's own NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center!

By being a part of these experiments, you can help Make the Best Better!

Go to the National 4-H STEM Challenge website for this year's challenge.

For more information contact: Mark DeMorra at mdemorra@umd.edu 

Adventures in Science

Adventures In Science is a partnership between the University of Maryland Extension and AIS Inc. It is a science-based hands-on educational program reaching about 330 youth ages 8-14 in Montgomery County. The program is provided at six locations managed by organizational leaders and instructors. Parents and other volunteers help teach interactive 2-3 hours sessions every Saturday for 18 weeks. 

MD 4-H Aerospace Workshop and Challenge

The Maryland 4-H Aerospace program blasts off into 2019! Youth ages 8-18 are encouraged to participate in this amazing program that may launch a STEM field career. The program focuses on model rocketry but incorporates educational and engineering activities into an out-of-this-world experience!

The 2019 Challenge Study Guide is Live!

2019 Aerospace Study Guide for Juniors, Intermediates, and Seniors

More information about the 4-H Aerospace Challenge can be found here.

All 4-H youth ages 8-18 are eligible to participate in the 4-H Aerospace Challenge. There is NO requirement to carry a rocketry or aerospace project. 

All challenge participants will be required to bring a rocket they have built themselves and prepare to speak about their design and on relevant Aerospace topics. At the event, individuals will participate in craftsmanship judging on their rocket, a live interview with a parts identification test with judges, and a short, written exam about aerospace history and knowledge. Seniors will be required to create a maximum 5-minute presentation about their rocket that they brought, the engineering and design process about its construction, and the important concepts behind the modern Aerospace industry.

At the competition, seniors will compete on a 2-person team, but are not required to register with a teammate; individual seniors will be paired with another senior 4-H’er upon arrival. For each age group, the competition will include an interview with judges including parts identification; a general exam on aerodynamics, model rocketry, and safety; a build-a-rocket session using pre-selected kits and components; and a safe rocket launch with evaluation both pre-and post-flight.

Youth may attend any ONE of the workshops listed below in 2019. While attendance at an Aerospace workshop is not required to participate in the challenge, it is strongly recommended so kids are prepared for Challenge Day. Information shared at each workshop will be the same so as to not provide any potential advantage to one region or another:

Robotics

THE 2020 4-H ROBOTICS CHALLENGES ARE LIVE!

Updates: 

2/10 REC Manual V1.1 + REC Build Guide
2/25 REC manual has been updated with rule clarifications and the addition of the scoring sheet.

Maryland State 4-H Robotics Challenge

The Maryland State 4-H Robotics Challenge provides the opportunity for members to participate in an organized statewide robotics activity. Members in each county will form teams that will build robots to perform specific tasks. The county teams will then have the opportunity to compete at the Maryland State Fair. The Challenge will be divided into two divisions: the LEGO Challenge and the Robotics Engineering Challenge. Each of the divisions will be broken down into age divisions.  Both divisions will have a Jr. Division (8-11), Intermediate Division (11-13), and a Senior Division (14-18). Mixed-age teams will be allowed and will participate in the age division of the oldest member on the team. Teams in the LEGO division will have from 3-8 members and teams in the Robotic Engineering teams will have 2-4 members. The Robotics Challenges will be released each year on February 1st.

Please click on this link to access the FAQ's List

The Maryland 4-H Robotics Forum is live! Click to join the conversation at http://4-hrobotics.boards.net/  

Have questions? Looking for help troubleshooting problems with building your robots or the field components? The 4-H Robotics Team is here to help. Sign up for a free account and ask away. 4-H members and leaders will be able to have full conversations, share information and ideas with each other, and have greater collaboration on how to best tackle this year's 4-H Robotics challenges. Take a look!

Maryland State 4-H Lego Challenge

The playlist for the 4-H Lego Challenge Build Guide is here: https://bit.ly/2UiTsQJ

Maryland 4-H LEGO Robotics Challenge will have members build robots using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT and LEGO parts. The challenge will be run on a 4’ X 4’ table. The robots will be required to start in a home base area and then travel autonomously throughout the board completing predetermined tasks. The NXT robots will be preprogrammed utilizing icon-based programming software. The robots will score points as they compete task within a 2-minute 30-second time frame. Teams will complete three rounds with their best score counting toward their final score.

Maryland 4-H LEGO Robotics Challenge will also require the team to present a technical presentation to a panel of judges. The teams will explain how their robot and attachment work and how they worked together to complete the challenge.

A third component of the Maryland 4-H LEGO Robotics Challenge is the community service project. Each season the 4-H LEGO Robotics Challenge will have a theme. The team will be asked to develop a service project that supports the theme. The team will do a visual presentation for a panel of judges explaining their service project.

The final score for each team will be based on a combination of the best robot round, technical presentation, and service project.

4-H Robotics Engineering Challenge

The Maryland 4-H Robotics Engineering Challenge will have members building larger robots up to 18” x 18” x 18” which will compete on a 12’ X 12’ playing field. The robot can be constructed from a variety of robotic platforms including but not limited to VEX, Tetrix, or LEGOs. The challenge will change every year. The first 30 seconds of the challenge will be performed by the robots autonomously.  The final 2 minutes will be driver-controlled through wireless controls.

Teams will also interview by a panel of judges answering questions about their robot construction, teamwork, and community activities.

2020 Maryland 4-H Lego Robotics Challenge Documents: 

      • Aquaculture - Stock the Pond
      • Automation - Feed the Cows
      • Automation - Milk the Cows
      • Urban Farming - Build a Rooftop Garden
      • Automation - Water Valve
      • Automation - Robotic Weeding
      • Precision Agriculture - Remote Sensing
      • Automation - Egg Collection
      • Urban Farming - High Tunnel 

2020 Maryland 4-H Robotics Engineering Challenge Documents: 

 

Engineering

Maryland 4-H has a long history of offering in-depth and hands-on experiences involving Engineering. This includes our Engineering Challenges at State Fair, as well as Engineering Camp every Spring. More information about these 4-H Engineering opportunities, including helpful resources and event information, follow.

http://www.egfi-k12.org/about/ 

https://www.engineergirl.org/

https://www.kidwind.org/ 

http://ithare.com/fields-of-engineering-overview/  

For more specific information about Maryland 4-H Engineering programs, contact Dwayne Murphy, 4-H Engineering Superintendent, at dmurphy2@umd.edu, or Mark DeMorra, 4-H STEM Specialist, at mdemorra@umd.edu.

Engineering Camp:

One of the greatest weekends in the Spring is the 4-H Engineering Camp! Located at the Harford County 4-H Campgrounds (The Rocks), its purpose is to introduce some of the numerous Engineering projects available through 4-H and to provide hands-on experiences to prepare youth for some of the county, regional, and state contests. In addition to in-depth exploration of Engineering projects, there will be fun challenges that will test youth's ability to use the Engineering Design Process to solve problems and achieve goals. Topics that have been featured include large tractor operation, welding, aerospace, computers, environmental engineering, GPS/GIS mapping, and underwater robotics. 

Location: The Rocks 4-H Camp, Street, MD
Date: TBD

 

4-H Engineering Challenges at the Maryland State Fair

Bicycle Safety: The State Fair "Bicycle Safety Challenge" tests youth's ability to operate, fix, and ride bicycles safely and effectively. The contest consists of a written test, Parts ID, and skills demonstrations by youth on to drive in a straight line, figure 8, on a city street, with double obstacles, and with double zig-zag obstacles. Resources youth can consult in preparation for the Bicycle Safety Challenge follow:

Purdue University Bicycle Safety Challenge: https://www.asec.purdue.edu/naengr/Bicycle.pdf

Bicycle Universe-Bike Laws in MD: https://bicycleuniverse.com/bicycle-laws/bike-laws-in-maryland/ 

Bike Law Blog-MD Bike Laws: https://www.bikelaw.com/2019/04/maryland-bike-laws/

Electricity/Energy: The State Fair "Electricity/Energy" Challenge features a written test, parts ID, and visual presentation that will be used to evaluate youth's knowledge of the physical theories behind Electricity and Energy and how to implement such safely and effectively into real-world projects. Resources youth can consult in preparation for the Electricity/Energy Challenge follow:

Purdue University Electricity/Energy Challenge: https://www.asec.purdue.edu/naengr/Electric.pdf  

Small Engine: The "Small Engine" Challenge at the Maryland State Fair evaluates youth knowledge of the safe operation and maintenance of small engines, present in many common devices such as lawn mowers, generators, tillers, and more. This is done through a written exam, parts ID, and a visual presentation given by youth. Resources youth can consult in preparation for the Small Engine Challenge follow:

Purdue University Small Engine Challenge: https://www.asec.purdue.edu/naengr/Small%20Engine.pdf

John Deere Manuals & Training Resources: https://www.deere.com/en/parts-and-service/manuals-and-training/

Lawn Tractor (Learn to Earn): The "Lawn Tractor" event at State Fair is designed to offer 4-H youth an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the areas of lawn care, business management, tractor operation, maintenance, and safety. The day of the challenge at state fair features a written exam, parts ID, safe operation course, and a tractor driving course.  Resources youth can consult in preparation for the Lawn Tractor (Learn to Earn) Challenge follow:

Purdue University Lawn Tractor Challenge: https://www.asec.purdue.edu/naengr/Lawn%20Tractor.pdf

John Deere Manuals & Training Resources: https://www.deere.com/en/parts-and-service/manuals-and-training/

Tractor Operator's Contest (4-H & FFA):  The “Large Tractor” event at State Fair is a joint challenge that both Maryland FFA and Senior-aged 4-H youth can participate in. It is meant to test their skills with operating agricultural tractors safely and effectively, including proper maintenance and care. The challenge consists of a written exam, practical exam, and 4 driving exams:

  • 2-Wheel Drive Safety
  • 2-Wheel Drive Operation Course
  • 4-Wheel Drive Safety
  • 4-Wheel Drive Operation Course

Competitors will be ranked both overall and via their specific program (4-H or FFA). Resources youth can consult in preparation for the Tractor Operator’s Contest follow:

Purdue University Tractor Operator's Safety Challenge: https://www.asec.purdue.edu/naengr/Tractor.pdf

Purdue 4-H Tractor Curriculum: https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/newsearch.asp?subCatID=403%20&CatID=16

John Deere Manuals & Training Resources: https://www.deere.com/en/parts-and-service/manuals-and-training/

To learn more about the STEM opportunities 4-H offers nationwide, check out the archived list of webinars held since 2010, including links to the recordings:

Click here to download the Directory of National 4-H Council Science Webinars.

We love to hear from our 4-H Alumni! If you are a 4-H alum currently working in a STEM field, please e-mail Mark DeMorra at mdemorra@umd.edu. We’d love to hear how 4-H has impacted your life and your decisions to pursue a STEM career. Thank you!

In addition, click below to see a list of even more STEM Activities & Resources that you can use anytime or anywhere, even from home!

 

Resources

STEM Activities & Resources

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Related Websites:

  • eGFI -- Engineering, Go For It! eGFI is sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). They are committed to promoting and enhancing efforts to improve K-12 STEM and engineering education.
  • Space Place from NASA Check out games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology.
  • Night Sky Notes The Night Sky Notes is a place to keep skywatchers up to date on what's up in the sky. Check back often to find out what's new and visible in our ever changing sky
  • Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Careers Information about careers in Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Science Buddies Free Science Fair Project Ideas, Answers and Tools for Serious Students
  • The Science of Cooking Discover how a pinch of curiosity can improve cooking! Explore recipes, activities, and Webcasts that will enhance your understanding of the science behind food and cooking.
  • Kid Wind Promote wind power through education and activities that challenge, engage and inspire all ages
  • Mixing in Math This Web site is a free resource for those looking for easy ways to integrate math into out-of-school time. The activities are geared toward K-6 grade and are available in English and Spanish. Educators and parents can use these activities to put math into a variety of topics such as cooking, telling stories, gym exercises, and arts and crafts projects.
  • Natural History Museum in London Find on-line science activities for kids, families and teachers as well as highlights of current collections at the museum.
  • Galaxy Zoo Find out how you can help astronomers explore the universe. You will view images from the NASAQ's Hubble Space Telescope and classify them by shape.
  • Zero Robotics: Zero Robotics is the first robotics competition in space! A partnership between MIT, NASA, and the International Space Station (ISS), students on teams across the world learn coding principles, math, computer science, and physics to virtually program satellite robots on the ISS, with the Astronauts giving play-by-play. Middle school and high school competitions take place each year, including in Maryland!
  • PhET Interactive Simulations: The PhET website is the place to go to perform experiments and explore the world without ever leaving your chair! Run by the University of Colorado Boulder, PhET simulations are fun, engaging, and free interactive experiences that cover every branch of science and mathematics. You’d never be able to do some of these experiments at home or even at school, so don’t miss out, do them online at PhET!
  • Code.org: Computer science is an ever-growing and evolving field that also has one of the largest shortages of qualified candidates in the modern world. Code.org, who also leads the annual “Hour of Code,” offers fun projects and opportunities for youth to get engaged in computer science, while also working to increase its diversity and exposure to underserved populations. Creating new art projects, sprite designs, cell-phone apps, and games are just some of the fun projects kids can do in their virtual lab!
  • FIRST Robotics Competitions (Jr. FLL, FLL, FTC, FRC): FIRST is home to the largest and longest-running STEM competitions in the world, including FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. Interested in robotics or trying to find a team? Take a look and get in on the fun!
  • VEX Competitions: VEX Robotics is a new approach to the competitive robotics world, with competitions for grade-school youth all the way through college. VEX IQ, VEX EDR, and VEX Pro await newcomers to get involved and become inspired, one robot at a time.
  • Meet The Greens: This site on PBS Kids is about “The Greens,” a family that lives green. Based off a former PBS television show called “Meet the Greens,” their goal was to encourage kids to explore sustainability and topics in the world of environmental science. Episodes of the show are available to view on the site. Many interesting activities and ideas are also located at the “Special Features” link. It also features an Activity Guide for adults who work with 9 to 12-year olds. Print copies of “The Greens” can be ordered by e-mailing wgbhmaterialsreq@wgbh.org.
  • NXTprograms.com: Love the Lego Mindstorms, but haven’t been able to find any new projects or ideas to use them for recently? This website has both building and programming ideas for the Lego Mindstorms line of robots, including both EV3 and NXT. Build instructions are included, in full color, and most are designed by kids!
  • KiwiCo: KiwiCo offers monthly projects to kids of all ages! Broken down into 7 lines with varying age ranges and topics of focus, KiwiCo kits are hands-on, fun, and educational kits for kids young and old to become problem solvers and expand their creativity. The best part? Kids can do them at their own pace!
  • Science Sparks: Science Sparks make science fun for kids! With lots of great ideas for fun science experiments to do at home, ideas for science fair projects, free worksheets for teachers to use in the classroom, and a bevy of fun facts to peruse, Science Sparks is one of the few one-stop shops for both kids and educators alike.
  • NASA For Students: NASA’s youth website continues to grow, featuring resources and curriculum for educators as well as fun and engaging activities for youth, divided up by grade level. Fun videos, event information, the NASA Kids’ Club, and internship opportunities are just some of the cool things for kids and adults to explore!
  • Hyperphysics: Do you enjoy Physics and Astronomy?... like REALLY enjoy them? Any questions about these complex and at times intimidating topics can be answered here. Georgia State’s website on Physics is an incredibly thorough and in-depth look at the subject featuring easily clickable crosslinks, pictures, breakdowns of complex equations, and even some interactive activities. It’s time to demystify Physics!
  • Physics Classroom: Physics can be hard, and sometimes, having everything in one spot for kids and educators to look at when trying to “force” though the concepts can be really useful! With curriculum and worksheets available that align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), plus interactive pages to help teach specific subjects across the entire physics “spectrum,” there’s a lot to look at. Plus, there are even specific resources for kids who will be taking the ACT test and for teachers who need help writing tests. The site is truly the “Big Bang” for getting through Physics in one piece!
  • Smithsonian Museum: The largest museum, education, and research complex in the world has a site for people to explore and interact with their science and nature exhibits. From tree frogs to fossils to computers to planetariums, the Smithsonian has it all!
  • Lawrence Hall of Science: The Lawrence Hall of Science, based at the University of California Berkeley, is a hub for lots of fun activities and resources for both in-person and online visitors. The museum has modern exhibits going all the way back over 65 million years, while the website has apps for kids that have been downloaded over 1 million times! They even have NGSS-aligned activities and curriculum for educators plus activities for kids to do online too. They have everything… but that’s Berkeley for you!
  • Cospaces.io: Interested in Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality? Ever wanted to create your own 3D VR/AR worlds? Cospaces.io is the website to do just that! Once you create a free account, you can then open the app on almost any cellphone, insert it into a compatible VR/AR headset, and take a tour of all your virtual worlds firsthand. Also, built-in Scratch programming can be used to make your world even more interactive!
  • TinkerCAD: Interested in 3D printing and 3D modeling? Never done 3D modeling before though? That’s okay! TinkerCAD is the most popular 3D modeling program for kids! Learn how to 3D model objects, import 3D objects and edit them, and export your creations to view or even 3D print. You can do it all!
  • USA Science & Engineering Festival: The USA Science & Engineering Festival is one of the largest STEM events in the nation, taking place bi-annually at the Washington DC Convention Center. Over 400,000 people attended the 2018 festival over the course of 3 days, which featured over 3000 interactive exhibits. The next festival will be in 2020, with the theme “Vision of STEM,” but other STEM events across the nation are also featured!
  • Instructables: Like to build things? You just hit paydirt! With Arduinos, leather, cosplay, jewelry, 3D printing, cooking, woodworking, gardening, and more, Instructables is where you can learn how to make just about anything!
  • Fields of Engineering Overview: There's a lot to Engineering. Not only are there dozens of major concentrations in the Engineering discipline, but each concentration has dozens of different types of roles and careers associated with it! Thankfully, a fellow teen with an interest in Engineering has compiled a nice list with resources on all the major disciplines of Engineering, including just exactly what Engineering does. The great people at IT HARE put it up on their site, which also has lots of in-depth articles about Best Practices, Tips & Tricks, and Research on Cybersecurity, System Architecture, and even the basics for how to create good online multiplayer games. That covers quite a breadth of STEM, doesn't it?

The Educational Equity Center at the Academy for Educational Development (EEC/AED) through a grant from the National Science Foundation has developed Great Science for Girls: Extension Services for Gender Equity in Science through After School Programs (GSG), to provide inquiry-based, informal science learning programs that will stimulate girls’ curiosity, interest and persistence in STEM and break down the barriers of gender stereotyping.

Great resources are available for purchase to further the idea of Science and Math are FUN!

STEM Websites for Girls

  • Wonderwise-Women in Science Learning Series Introduces you to women who have made science their career.
  • Carnegie STEM girls This site is where girls can connect with the people and opportunities that can make their dreams happen.
  • Nerd Girls This website highlights a growing, global movement that celebrates smart-girl individuality that’s revolutionizing our future. They want to encourage other girls to change their world through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math while embracing their feminine power.
  • Engineer Girl Read about the EngineerGirl! Essay Contest. Find out more about engineering careers. See profiles of women engineers. Find out what classes to take in high school to pursue an engineering career.