Gage County 4-H is providing several different types of programs in Gage County schools throughout the year.

Jacie Milius, Assistant Extension Educator, leads a STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) at Paddock Lane as a part of the BLAST after-school program. Students in grades 3-5 use Makey Makey Invention Kits to explore electrical circuits, and understand the difference between conductors and insulators.

They also build robots using the Lego EV3 Mindstorms and programming them through an iPad app.

“Beginning Oct. 22, this same program will be done at Stoddard. This is a partnership with the Rocketry Club through their NASA grant where they will build rockets and launch them. It’s so much fun,” said Milius.

“We will also be involved with a Connecting the Dots program with the ESU 5 and Nebraska Department of Education on 25th in Beatrice. It’s a career simulation for ninth graders. As a part of the simulation, students interact with community members representing career clusters allowing them to connect education with the career they want to pursue,” said Milius.

Tara Dunker, Extension Educator, is currently at Paddock Lane one time a week with the BLAST after-school program leading a Kids in the Kitchen program.

“This encourages youth to eat healthier meals and snacks as a result of hands-on cooking experiences,” said Dunker. “Participants learn how to prepare simple, healthy foods they can make themselves and for family members at home. We also talk about food safety and washing their hands.”

Jane Esau, Gage County 4-H Assistant, works in the Beatrice Middle School with Jan Smaus, Family and Consumer Science, during two quarters of the school year. As a part of the after-school enrichment, students sew together pieces for a Quilt of Valor.

The quilts are later presented to local veterans.

“Some of the kids have said 'We didn’t know we could do this' and some of the recipients have said 'I will treasure this quilt as long as I live,'" said Esau.

Esau has also provided ag literacy and photography at the Beatrice Middle School.

During the spring, several area schools participate in the Embryology program.

“Students have first-hand experience and take responsibility for the care of fertilized eggs in the incubator in their classroom,” said Esau.

Doris Martin, Project Director for Beatrice Public School BLAST After-school, said 4-H and the Extension staff were in important part of the program.

“They offer valuable expertise, taught classes and been an integral part of the unique opportunities we can offer students,” said Martin. “For example, each of the three sites has vertical grow stations and there is a garden at Paddock Lane. Nicole Stoner, gave us valuable advice as we were designing the outside space and connected us with two master gardeners to help with watering over the summer."

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