Hear reporter Rebecca Mitchell narrate this story:

The expanding of programs to continuously reach more youth keeps 4-H leaders enthralled. While hosting a STEM program for a homeschool group in Bertha, Wadena County educator Kim Dailey said she learned to let the students try, try and try again.

“The best part, I think, was some of the experiments that actually failed the first (time) and what should we do different, what should we try now, and that was one thing I really learned was to give them time to fail and try again,” Dailey said.

While students can feel the pressure from school and society to get things right the first time, Dailey reminded the students that engineers make lots of mistakes before having a success.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

She partnered with University of Minnesota Extension educators for 4-H Youth Development in East Otter Tail County Janet Malone and Sarah Downhour as well as Todd County educator Alyssa Scheve to share lessons on science, technology, engineering and math. Their curated lesson plans focused on bridges.

One lesson included a demonstration from Dailey’s son, who is a master computer coder. He shared a Sphero robot ball with the older students, who built a maze for the ball to be programmed and travel through. The younger students used a programmed robot to follow a path on their linoleum floors.

“It was really fun to get them all engaged,” Dailey said.

The short time frame was packed with fun and educational elements, as Dailey described, like building a tower of spaghetti and learning about resources such as time and materials.

The homeschool group had 15 minutes to build the tallest spaghetti tower with 20 pieces of spaghetti, 20 marshmallows and masking tape.
Photo courtesy Wadena County 4-H, March 2021
The homeschool group had 15 minutes to build the tallest spaghetti tower with 20 pieces of spaghetti, 20 marshmallows and masking tape. Photo courtesy Wadena County 4-H, March 2021

The lessons started with a meeting to re-introduce the homeschool moms to what 4-H is today. Dailey said the mission of 4-H is broad: “find a spark in each child and ignite that spark.” There are approximately 100 project areas in 4-H, so that spark could be science, shooting sports, food, babysitting, animals or photography.

“We really opened some eyes because a lot of the moms had that preconceived notion that you had to live on a farm or you had to have animals. Or 4-H was all about showing your horse at the fair,” Dailey said.

The leaders hope the group will join a 4-H club, form their own 4-H club or create a specific STEM club taught by the parents.

Dailey worked with the young age group of students, one of whom sent her a letter about how much she enjoys the STEM program. 
Photo courtesy Wadena County 4-H, March 2021
Dailey worked with the young age group of students, one of whom sent her a letter about how much she enjoys the STEM program. Photo courtesy Wadena County 4-H, March 2021

While 4-H is about more than the fair, 4-Hers are excited for the resuming of in-person judging at the Wadena County fairgrounds. The fair is scheduled for June 17-20. Dog training with lots of new participants and a show set for the end of August are back on, too.

“We are full-speed ahead for in-person fair, regardless of what happens to the actual county fair,” Dailey said. “We will still meet the same week for judging, so all of our judging this year will be in-person, both the livestock and non-livestock. So kids are very, very excited for that.”

In 2020, 4-Hers had a small livestock show for families at the fairgrounds and presented their non-livestock projects virtually.

Students were also invited to participate in Zoom lessons, though many are tired of the online learning, according to Dailey. But seeing faces and happiness returned in January with an in-person service day.

The next few months will be filled with choosing projects, preparing animals and signing up for exhibits. The 4-Hers will also have an arts and crafts day to create their exhibit at Art Bar 39. And they’ll be ready to share with the public all the ins and outs of their projects that they’ve learned.

What 4-H project are you looking forward to?

Thank you for voting!

  • Rabbits, they're just so fluffy

    100%

  • Art pieces

    0%

  • Beef showing

    0%