The Chartering of Jose Rios STEM 4-H Club
Piti, GUAM – On April 20th 2017, the University of Guam’s 4-H Youth Development Program visited Jose Rios Middle School to meet with STEM 4-H Club to begin their Chartering. When 4-H charters a new club, it is the beginning of a long-term, progressive series of educational experiences between the two partners. Through this partnership the 4-H Program will provide opportunities for youth development that will meet the needs of young people through experiences in the Essential Elements of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. These elements are vital components to engaging with youth in order to implement change and insight within school, home and other social environments.
In assembly of our partnership with the STEM 4-H Club, the 4-H Program aims to use experiential learning as its primary teaching approach with the youth. By planning opportunities that show evidence of promoting our Essential Elements towards Youth Development. This is done through the application of Life Skills such as leadership, citizenship, community service and public speaking. As well as providing a safe and healthy physical and emotional environment through youth-adult partnerships that encourage active involvement and participation from leading adult models such as school teachers, community leaders, or 4-H mentors and advisors.
Through our active participation with the Jose Rios Middle School STEM 4-H Club the University of Guam’s 4-H Youth Development and Outreach Program highly recognizes this school through their dedication, participation and exponential growth as a prime example of a 4-H Club.
Jose Rios Middle School has not only participated in numerous 4-H Activities, but continues to expand on their projects even afer 4-H mentors have completed their designated workshops. One project in particular, has grown profoundly through 4-H influence and guidance, school teachers, and most importantly the STEM 4-H Club. These students aspire to start new projects, expand in current endeavors and excel in social responsibility. Through this the 4-H Program has made it their priority to be the stepping stone these students need to continue on this path of greatness, community outreach, and positive youth development.
4-H began working with Jose Rios Middle School a year ago and since then they have enlarged on a general horticulture project into a full-grown garden. From 2 raised bed bordered with plants the STEM 4-H Club has added a hydroponics system, several different types of vertical gardens, earth buckets, tire planters, container gardens, and garden mounds of traditional gardening.
The most innovative project that the STEM 4-H Club has devised is their Hydroponics and Aquaponics System. The Hydroponics System uses mineral nutrient solutions in the water without the soil. While the Aquaponics System allows the students to provide their plants with the nutrients they need naturally from the fish, rather than from store bought nourishments. Through the creation of a hydroponics and aquaponics system into the students’ garden the students become equipped with the knowledge and importance of these structures. Hydroponics and Aquaponics promote food education and enlighten the students to be conscious consumers and farmers. The skills the youth will obtain by constructing these two systems relate to STEM learning that focus on its 4 core components of science, technology,
engineering and mathematics. By assisting in projects such as this, in relation to horticulture, we are able to instill life skills into the youth that they can apply in the future. Such as Self-Responsibility, Team Work, Marketable Skills, Responsible Citizenship, Cooperation, Wise Use of Resources, Critical Thinking and Disease Prevention. The complexity of a hydroponic and aquaponics system allows the students to be innovative, become more direct with nature and the environment, and allow them to develop technical skills while learning core educational subjects such as biology, chemistry, and engineering. Enriching youth with knowledge and experience in fields that promote healthy choices, living, and environment they become accustomed to the Life Skills incorporated within these activities and will then continue practicing them as they begin new projects in the future.
Vertical gardening is an experiential and educational form of learning because it teaches creativity, the fundamentals of gardening, and wise use of resources. Through vertical gardening
the youth learn to make large impacts with limited space and available resources with a focus on the importance of reusing, reducing and recycling materials in their everyday lives. The use of empty bottle containers has helped the STEM 4-H Club’s green onions flourish within a controlled environment. Several other vertical gardens outline the center portion to provide a durable structure for their bean plants. The use of vertical gardening teaches the youth to think creatively during projects along with absorbing the concepts of permaculture; the focus of creating an environment that would be natural for the plants to grow, with the use of resources that are available. Another main benefit of vertical gardening is that it uses limited space and can be utilized in both homes and apartments. Students will be able to take the knowledge they have learned and apply it in their home environment.
Regardless of living situations vertical gardening promotes indoor and outdoor plants to flourish. Hands on activities such as these are most beneficial to the youth because they are able to share in these activities with their parents or family members. Many elders on Guam value or have their own garden, by providing youth with the knowledge to partake in activities such as these can bridge the gap between younger and older generations is a key component to 4-H Guam’s core value. Along with the students engaging in STEM learning, along with fundamental Life Skills promoted by the 4-H Program such as Learning to Learn, Problem Solving, Planning and Organizing, Leadership, Character, and Self-Responsibility.
Earth Buckets, Tire Planters, & Container Gardening
Earth Buckets, Tire Planters and Container Gardening are an extremely effective method of garden-based learning for students and youth. Studies have shown that students who participate in gardening activities excel in science based curricula. Since gardening is time consuming for teachers to instruct students on horticulture, but with the use of earth buckets, tire planters and container gardening it will eliminate the need to weed, hoe, and dig. Resulting in easy, hands on gardening in an instructional environment that does not require much commitment.
By using Earth Buckets, Tire Planters and Container Gardening we are able to provide the STEM 4-H Club and its instructors with the necessary tools and materials to teach the students on the different components of STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, along with general science, biology and horticulture. Providing opportunities such as these are extremely beneficial because it incorporates more than just hands on learning, STEM based learning, and horticulture. It also teaches the youth on many of the issues they are facing today regarding their health. Through effective and easy gardening such as these, students learn where food comes from, how to fight obesity, and how to facilitate healthy eating and living. Tackling these topics are vital in instruction today because health issues amongst children have spiked in recent years due to poor dieting, inactivity and lack of influence on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These three issues are easily conquered through all types of gardening, but is easily achieved through the simplicity and effective means of Earth Buckets, Tire Planters and Container Gardening.
Through garden mounds youth are able to learn the traditional ways of gardening. With this method students can see the progression from traditional gardening with the other methods they have been using. Through this garden mounds the students are able to see the role of modernization and technology and its incorporation into gardening. With new ways of gardening such as the students’ hydroponics and vertical gardens the students are able to see the manual improvements that has happened to gardening over the last 2000 years. Traditional gardening is an extremely beneficial method of gardening because it requires students to take on more roles and responsibilities to maintain their garden which deepens a child’s sense of connection with nature and builds environmental stewardship. By seeing the growth of their plants from their handwork the students begin to have a sense of connection to an individual plant and begin to care about the forces that will impact the plant’s future. Since traditional gardening has been used all around the world, including Guam, students are able to grasp the social and material history of the land and apply local techniques and methods to their gardening skills. Not only does gardening enlighten the student on science based curricula, STEM learning, outdoor activity, healthy living, but it is also the bridge that connects traditional and local history with youth through hands on experiences. The instillation of these traits and values with the youth allow them to be caring, culture valued and responsible citizens, it allows them to grow in environment that is beneficial in more ways than one. Skills that the students obtain through gardening, not only incorporate the different methods and techniques to plant survival, but inspires the students to connect with nature and practice Life Skills that they can value from now and in the future.
Through the Chartering of Jose Rios Middle School’s STEM 4-H Club we the 4-H Program will continue to instill the Essential Elements that enrich a student to care, become independent, master personal skills, and unite with others in the community. Gardening is an effective way to bring the students into the local community to share in what they have accomplished. We will also continue to educate on Life Skills that will shape the students into responsible leaders and citizens in and outside of the classroom. Along with providing the students with the necessary tools to practice more of these hands-on activities we will also teach the students how to continue gardening and how to analyze and reflect on their work in order to identify proper decision making choices and recognize errors and how to resolve them.