With the help of Colorado State University, Summit County children get to be the first in the state to take part in a new science, technology, engineering and math program.
The 4-H STEMasters program will take place for elementary students at each school after the regular day is over. Children will have the opportunity to participate in four different focuses, which could grow in the future: Robotics - computer programming of Lego robots and team competition; energy - wind, solar, biofuels and electricity; environment - forestry, gardening, geology and butterflies - and science 101, which consists of physical, earth and life.
CSU is providing all materials, curriculum and training for volunteers, who do not need a science background to participate. The local 4-H program is a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University and Summit County government.
"We realized this was a way to bring something to students without bringing it into the school day," said Laura Johnson, member of Summit County STEM, a group focused on bringing more STEM opportunities to the area. Looking at Colorado Student Assessment Program scores, Summit students are lacking in science, and bringing in STEMasters locally would better help prepare children for the future, Johnson said.
Summit County was picked as the first experience of the program because of a high level of interest in expanding STEM opportunities.
"There's definitely a community and parent desire for it," Johnson said. "We're really hoping it's going to take off here."
Right now, the program is planned for all Summit elementary schools, but eventually, a version of the classes could make their way to Summit Middle School and Summit High School. Johnson doesn't have an exact date as to when it will start, but imagines it'll get going before the end of the school year. Kids can enroll for $40, which covers them for the whole year and allows them to participate in numerous 4-H project clubs.