In April and May, 4-H staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Otsego County were among a select group of 4-H staffers across the country to pilot one of the new 4-H project books for the new Science, Engineering and Technology, or SET, initiative in the Creating Rural Opportunities Program in the Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School.

Led by Susan Carver, community educator with 4-H Youth Development, 18 fourth- through sixth-grade students helped to evaluate 10 activities from SET's "Earth Ecosystems" books. They designed insects, explored forest and stream habitats, tried to launch a lima bean seed, made insect sampling nets and studied water quality and more during the five-week pilot period.

After each activity, the 4-H staff and the students evaluated the activity, brainstorming on ways to improve them. Evaluations were forwarded to the National 4-H Council to be included in the final draft of the activity guides.

The SET program is a national priority of the 4-H Youth Development program for the next five years, officials said. The program aims to prepare 1 million young people to excel in science, engineering and technology through 4-H and the Extension system's connection to the research facilities and other resources of the nation's 106 land-grant universities and colleges.

Other primary components of the national 4-H SET program include creating and nationally disseminating SET curricula that supports the development of scientific literacy within the context of non-formal experientially-based instruction; fostering and supporting 4-H clubs, camps and after-school programs that employ SET curricula; identifying a 4-H SET liaison from each land-grand institution; and providing SET training for 4-H youth development professionals and volunteers.

National 4-H expects to have the final draft of the books out next year, officials said.

To learn more about the local SET pilot program or about 4-H, contact Carver at sac65@cornell.edu or 547-2536.

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