Summer of Science in Sioux County, 4-H = STEM

Green Thumbs, Dirty Fingers participants

Sioux County, IowaOf all the possible clubs and organizations parents and kids can choose to belong to, a 4-H club should be number one on the list. What does the public know about 4-H? Some think it’s all about farms. And animals. Period. Experts at Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach know it’s so much more. All the activities are and always have been STEM focused, meaning the members are engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematic principles. Sioux County youth who belong to a 4-H club are immersed in STEM activities. When they write their report on “What did you do this summer?” they could write a book.

What did Sioux County 4-H members do this summer?

The livestock workshop. Youth from several counties attended three sessions of their choice at the Sibley fairgrounds:  beef, sheep, swine, rabbit, poultry, meat goat/dairy goat, dairy or horse. Senior 4-H’ers and adults led sessions on animal health and nutrition, showing, and grooming. Members engaged in science topics by engaging in activities about animal health and nutrition and learned about animal behavior and the “fight or flight” zone of animals.  

The communications workshop. 4-H members from Sioux County together with Dordt College

Theatre department and KDCR radio starred in"Billboards, Backstage and Behind the Mic". Valuable principles of communication through graphic art and the ability for a mind to remember seven things was the focus of this workshop. Math. Members experienced radio broadcasting and the art of communication through the spoken word and inflection. Any form of communication is a life-long skill.

The outdoor skills day at Oak Grove Big Park, Sioux County. Talk about the call of the wild! Students learned about different wildlife that live in Northwest Iowa thanks to the Sioux County Conservation Board, Sioux County Sportsmen's Club, and 4-H Extension. Many youth learned about different wildlife that live in Northwest Iowa, experienced nature while canoeing and hiking, and learned about movement and energy through archery and air rifle. Participants also learned about the human body and sight through the dominant eye activity. More science.

ISU Extension and Outreach in Sioux County offered many camp opportunities all focusing on STEM principles. If your children missed them, make sure they get signed up next year.

  • Explorations of Vet Science participants learned basic animal science through hands-on activities including: injections (inter-muscular and subcutaneous), reading x-rays, checking heart rate, and the origin of domestic animals.
  • GEAR-Tech-21 (Geospatial and Robotic Technologies for the 21st Century) camp participants were immersed in robotics, GPS and GIS technologies. They built robots, learned block computer programming and GPS; programed robots to move, pull and play using touch, ultrasonic, and light sensors; and had to work in teams. This camp strengthened children’s communication skills and gave them opportunities to present group challenges to parents and adults.
  • STEM camps applied math and science facts in an inquiry-based learning environment. Students discovered aerospace and rockets, applying Newton’s Laws to the making of hovercrafts and pop bottle rockets, practicing “inquiry-based learning” to solve problems and improve their designs
  • Discover 4-H day camp at Sandy Hollow Recreation Area engaged 1st through 3rd graders in many science topics. Students learned about several different types of fish that live in Northwest Iowa and gained a close up look by fishing. They discovered different wildlife that lives in Northwest Iowa. They experienced canoeing and examined movement and energy through archery.

“Green Thumbs, Dirty Fingers” – an extension Connecting Learning and Living: Growing in the Garden program. Grades 1st to 3rd learned and worked in their outdoor classroom from May 11 – August 24 at the Orange City Community Garden. The children engaged in science topics through a variety of ways. They grew a salad garden composed of different vegetables and fruit including spinach, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, nasturtiums (edible flowers), watermelon, cantaloupe, and cabbage. Next was the hard work of garden maintenance – learning about tools and how to use them to prepare the soil, plant, water, weed, and harvest a garden. And what gardener can grow fantastic plants without knowing the different parts of a plant – roots, flowers, stems, leaves (plant science)! The children engaged in environmental science discussion and activities about decomposition, erosion and pollution. By investing in good food choices from participating in the process of growing, harvesting, preparing and eating, these children better understand good nutrition and will make better food choices!

For more information about ISU Extension and Outreach of Sioux County 4-H programs, contact Cindy Cleveringa or Lynda Kroeze at 712-737-4230 or, See all Sioux County 4-H programming at

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