Students GEAR UP their brains with 4-H STEM Club

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Stephanie Alanis, AmeriCorps member with Buena Vista County Extension, oversees Monica’s work as she drills a Geo Board during 4-H STEM Club at the Storm Lake Middle School TLC after-school program.

Storm Lake Middle School students have been gearing up their brains with a hands-on 4-H STEM Club during Tornado Learning Club after-school program. During the months of November and December STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities have been facilitated on a weekly basis by Stephanie Alanis, AmeriCorps member at ISU Extension and Outreach – Buena Vista County. The students have created Geo Boards using power drills, dimensional lumber, dowels, sandpaper, hot glue and rubber bands. Several students have suggested their finished projected may become gifts for family members. Students also have the opportunity to work with Makey Makey and Scratch technology. Makey Makey is an invention kit allowing an individual to turn an endless variety of everyday items into a remote or touchpad. Students can play Pac-man with a banana or compose music on a pencil sketch. The creative opportunities are endless! Scratch is a free programming platform, allowing students to build interactive stories, games and more. The ability to code is becoming an essential technology skill for the 21st century.

Students engineer a free standing structure from dowels during 4-H STEM Club at the Storm Lake Middle School TLC after-school program.

Resources for the 4-H STEM Club have been made possible through the Iowa Governor’s Scale Up Initiative called “Making STEM Connections.” The items received are designed to allow young people to explore, tinker, create, and build with flexible resources and simple tools. Some specific examples include a Go Pro, sewing machine, tool kits, youth-sized cordless drills, soldering tools, motors, circuits, and Cubelet robotics.

Many more opportunities to actively engage with STEM activities exist in the Buena Vista County 4-H Program. To learn more about how to get involved as a youth member or adult volunteer, please contact the Buena Vista County Extension Program at 712-732-5056 or online at