Iowa Teens Journey to New York City and Boston with 4-H STEM in Motion

Iowa 4-H’s groundbreaking STEM in Motion program takes students on unforgettable journey

June 16, 2023, 3:35 pm | Alexa Groff, Sydney Peterson

STEM in Motion youth in New York.AMES, Iowa – Iowa’s future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics embarked on an exhilarating adventure as part of STEM in Motion, an innovative 4-H Youth Development program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Alexa Groff, Iowa 4-H STEM education specialist, created and organized the program, providing 13 talented and enthusiastic youth from across the state with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the thriving STEM hubs of New York City and Boston during a transformative five-day trip.

The STEM-focused journey began in the bustling metropolis of New York City, where the students immersed themselves in an array of captivating experiences. Their itinerary included visits to renowned attractions such as Spyscape, an interactive museum dedicated to the intriguing world of espionage. The young explorers also marveled at the iconic Statue of Liberty and took in the breathtaking panoramic views from the One World Observatory atop the One World Trade Center. To ignite their curiosity in space and aviation, the students had the chance to explore the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, where they got up close and personal with historic aircrafts and vessels.

But the adventure didn’t stop there. As avid enthusiasts of the performing arts, the Iowa teens eagerly attended the Broadway production of the legendary musical, “Wicked,” where they were captivated by the enchanting performances and dazzling stagecraft.

STEM in Motion helicopter workshop.The journey then continued to the historic city of Boston, where students delved deeper into the world of history and STEM. They had the incredible opportunity to participate in a hands-on computer science helicopter workshop led by talented students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Stage One Education. Engaging in this practical workshop, Iowa teens learned valuable coding skills and discovered the exhilaration of applying STEM principles to real-world challenges.

Further exploring the scientific wonders of Boston, the group embarked on a captivating Duck Boat tour, taking in the city’s iconic landmarks while cruising both land and water. They also visited the esteemed New England Aquarium, where they marveled at an incredible array of marine life and learned about the importance of environmental conservation.

The journey culminated with a visit to the Boston Science Museum, an institution renowned for its interactive exhibits and engaging demonstrations. Here, the students had the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge displays and delve into a wide range of scientific concepts.

Adding an extra element of excitement to their adventure, the Iowa youth also experienced the thrill of Boda Borg, an innovative real-world questing experience. This challenging and immersive adventure pushed their problem solving skills to the limit, fostering teamwork, communication and critical thinking.

To top it off, the youth had the privilege of touring the MIT campus, one of the world’s leading institutions for STEM education and research. Witnessing the cutting-edge facilities, they were inspired by the potential for innovation and exploration that lay ahead.

“This opportunity has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on these young minds, empowering them to explore the wonders of STEM in vibrant environments and inspiring them to pursue future careers in these fields,” said Groff, STEM in Motion program creator. “Through this immersive journey, Iowa 4-H has succeeded in fostering a passion for STEM among these youth, equipping them with invaluable skills that will undoubtedly shape their futures.”

Groff added, “On the trip home, as the students talked about their experiences, it seemed that their hearts and minds were brimming with new knowledge and inspiration.”

STEM in Motion is a testament to Iowa 4-H Youth Development’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders and innovators. By providing transformative experiences, 4-H STEM programs play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Iowa and beyond, ensuring that the state remains at the forefront of scientific advancement and technological innovation.

The next STEM in Motion trip will head to Orlando, Florida, in June 2024. This immersive experience promises to combine a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the magic of two iconic destinations: NASA and Disney.

“The chance to engage in hands-on STEM activities at NASA's renowned Kennedy Space Center is a dream come true for any aspiring scientist. Exploring cutting-edge research, witnessing awe-inspiring space artifacts, and interacting with the brilliant minds behind space exploration will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on youth,” Groff said.

The trip will include a visit to Disney's educational initiatives. Combining entertainment and education, Disney has been at the forefront of innovative storytelling and technology, making it an ideal backdrop to delve into the fascinating world of STEM.

“With the support and guidance of Iowa 4-H, this trip will provide an unforgettable experience, fuel curiosity and inspire youth to pursue a future in STEM fields,” Groff added.

For more information on STEM in Motion opportunities, please visit or contact your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office.

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