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SET Toolkit
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SET Toolkit

4-H Science Toolkit - activities that encourage young scientists to explore

The 4-H Science Toolkit is a collection of science activities - perfect for youth grades 3-6, and beyond for some. The activities have been developed for afterschool, in-school, clubs and youth groups, camps and others wishing to explore science. Lessons are written to be "grab and go" for any leader or teacher. Most can be taught with items found around the home and will take 45-90 minutes to complete.

The series consists of six stand-alone activities for each topic. Activities have been contributed by 4-H educators and Cornell University staff. The activities are aligned with the NYS Learning Standards. Please utilize the evaluation forms to provide feedback and usage data.

We encourage the development of new modules.

Free downloadable 4-H Science Toolkit Lesson Plans: 

Animal Science (pdf) (NYS learning standards) Topics: Explore animal body temperatures and ways animals regulate their temperature, learn how animals protect themselves from disease and illness, learn to read behavioral signals from animals and discover why they behave the way they do in the wild, discover the basic parts of the respiratory system in animals and in humans and learn about respiration rates for different animals, experiment with various activities to help them understand how animals use their senses to survive, examine animal foods to find out what nutrients are important for animal health and for people.

Lost Ladybugs (K-2 pdf) (3-6 pdf) (NYS learning standards) Topics: Insect life cycles and the food web, biological control of insect pests, biodiversity, building a sweep net, capturing, cataloguing and storing insects, submitting data to the Lost Ladybug Project.

Entomology (pdf) (NYS learning standards) Activities: Explore the way spiders leave their nests, learn about some of the 80,000 different species of beetles and how to tell them from other insects, learn how yellow jackets and hornets create their nests full of combs, discover how to measure the quality of a stream by collecting and cataloguing the insects that live there, wander into the woods to find unusual growths on plants and learn what caused them and what might live inside.

Energy Awareness (pdf) Calculating CO2 worksheet (.xls) 

Geospatial Science (pdf) (NYS learning standards) Activities: 4-H'ers are having a blast exploring geospatial sciences from simple Geocaching (using GPS receivers to look for hidden treasure boxes all around the world) to complex community mapping projects.  These activities are designed to introduce youth to the concepts behind mapping and geospatial science. 

Flight (pdf) (NYS learning standards) Activities: Create various vehicles for flight – from kites to boomerangs to flying saucers. Through their creation and flight experiments, youth learn about the science behind flight and begin to understand terms like drag, lift and payload.  They also explore how flight is affected by factors such as the shape of an object, how it is thrown or launched and environmental factors such as wind speed.  Students use everyday materials such as paper, tape, paper plates, cardboard and tissue paper to create their flying objects.

Astronomy 1 and 2 (Astronomy 1 pdf) (Astronomy 2 pdf) (NYS learning standards) Activities: In Astronomy 1, "Sky Gazing," Gaze at the night sky and learn to identify constellations and find out how ancient people used stars to chart the seasons and tell stories, discover how they can use the sun to tell time, experiment with light and objects to learn how solar and lunar eclipses happen and discover how a simple refracting telescope works. In Astronomy 2, "Exploring the Solar System," model the scale sizes and distances of planets and the sun and learn ways to remember the names of the planets in the correct order, make and launch a simple rocket, design and build a spacecraft lander, experiment to understand what causes impact craters on the moon, learn about lava flows on the moon and learn about comets by making comet ice cream.

Climate in Your Backyard (pdf) (NYS learning standards) Activities:  Explore the impact of weather and climate on humans, animals and plants and begin to understand what causes wind, snowfall, storms and other weather events.  Children will create construction paper snowstorms, indoor thunderstorms, learn how a tree stump can reveal the climate of a region and create an instrument to measure wind speed. By recreating these natural events, children experiment with the various factors that affect weather and climate – humidity, air pressure, temperature and elevation. They will also learn how weather forecasters use tools like contour maps to predict snowfall and temperature and discuss how animals and plants adapt to changing weather conditions.  These hands-on activities allow students to predict what will happen, test theories, then share their results.

Water (pdf) (Pond key) (River key) (NYS learning standards) Activities: Learn how water cycles around the planet, which creatures act as water health indicators, what pollutes the water and how to purify the water, and discover the aquatic sushi buffet that is the fish food chain.

Plant Science (pdf) (NYS learning standards)  Activities:  In this Toolkit series, students will use all of their senses to learn more about the amazing world of plants. They’ll become keen observers and notice small details in the plant world; conduct experiments to learn how plants respond to light; discover how plants adapt to changing climate conditions; explore chlorophyll and gain an understanding of how plant color relates to nutritional value. They’ll even conduct some taste tests on vegetables, hoping to find a new one to add to their list of favorites.  The lessons in this unit were developed by, and are connected to, Cornell Garden-Based Learning, in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.


Download a complete set of the Science Toolkit activities here​​