Journal of Human Sciences and Extension (Feb 2019)

Intentional STEM Infusion (ISI) Approach for 4-H Non-STEM Project Volunteers: Finding STEM in Plain Sight

  • Jeremy Elliott-Engel,
  • Kelly Robinson,
  • Donna Westfall-Rudd

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 1
pp. 155 – 168


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STEM literacy is identified as a necessary skill for participation in the future workforce. 4-H has responded to this need to develop STEM-ready youth by expanding access to project areas like Robotics. It has been acknowledged that recruiting and training STEM competent staff and volunteers is a limitation in expanding these types of programs. At the same time, 4-H youth are enrolled in many traditional non-STEM projects that are imbued with STEM concepts. 4-H volunteers with increased awareness of their role in fostering STEM education and STEM literacy can be a valuable resource in preparing 4-H youth with STEM-ready professional skills. 4-H professionals can train front-line volunteers to use an intentional STEM infusion approach within the experiential learning process. It is posited that volunteers will be better able to facilitate STEM learning in real-world contexts for a wide-range of 4-H youth by using this approach. The use of the ISI approach provides an opportunity for 4-H to develop more STEM-ready youth than by only serving those youths who are attracted to STEM-focused projects alone.