STEM Outreach Education

Sustainability through Science

group photo

logo for Sustainability through Science project

The outreach education component of the EPSCoR Track 2 RII project is to develop and conduct outreach activities and curricula to integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education via the science of plant building blocks and sustainability in the context of Food, Water, and Energy Systems into secondary agricultural education classes and 4-H programs. Our goal is to promote interest in STEM by providing agricultural education teachers and 4-H and youth development county agents with tools to engage and train the future STEM workforce and to promote a broader awareness of the interface between agriculture, science and engineering. It is essential to fuel the STEM pipeline in both Kentucky and Louisiana. Furthermore, we are providing research training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at both the University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University and LSUAg Center. For more information, contact Tanya Dvorak, Ph.D., STEM Outreach Education Coordinator, at

Resources for all Educators


STEM Resources for Educators

- Classroom Resources (lesson plans, activities, etc. on science subjects) are available on the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) website.

Science News Magazine of the Society for Science & the Public – Check out news and science articles on atom and cosmos, earth and environment (agriculture and sustainability are integrated), genes and cells, math and technology, matter and energy and more! There is also a Science News for Students section containing articles and how to use the site in the classroom for teachers.

- The National Geographic website has a host of opportunities for literacy as well as photographs and videos across the disciplines that can be a great resource. 

- The Plant Health Instructor Index is a journal of peer-reviewed instructional materials, including K-12 laboratory exercises, and teaching scholarship for plant pathology and closely related disciplines. 

- The Kentucky 4-H Science, Engineering & Technology website provides links to curriculum in the areas of ATV safety, Aerospace, Biotechnology, Bicycle, Energy/Electricity, Geospatial, National Youth Science Day, Robotics, Physical Sciences, and Petroleum Power. Check out the website and contact your county’s 4-H Extension Agent for more information. 

- 4-H Science Programs for Club and School Enrichment – A multitude of STEM resources and curriculum are available from the Oklahoma State University 4-H Youth Development Program’s website, including lesson plans, activities, STEM Lab Videos, etc.

- 4-H Polymers Curriculum for youth/Cloverbuds (K-2) – Six lesson modules are free to use. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Center for Sustainable Polymers. 

- 4-H Inspire Kids to Do Activity Guide – (PDF file) Many fun, skill-building activities are provided within this document that are great for classrooms, club activities, or to do at home! 

Learn about STEM educational opportunities for youth by checking out the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative (KGSC) website by checking out the seasonal event guides with programming for youth and teachers in Kentucky. Also see the Resources section and feel free to sign up  for the KGSC mailing list to receive updates to your email address.


Energy and Sustainability Resources

-  Check out K20alt Authentic Learning & Teaching Curriculum for these lessons:

  – Energy Water Bucket Brigade is a lab to help students discover how energy is transferred to ecosystems.
  – Planting Fuel:  Photosynthesis is a lesson where students analyze the process of energy transfer between sunlight and plants as they explore the photosynthesis process. Also check out other Agriculture, Mathematics and Science lessons related to food, water, and energy.

- Check out the U. S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) STEM Education for multiple educational resources for elementary through high school teachers, as well as for students and parents. STEM instructional activity resources, professional development/training, contests and competitions, and extracurricular STEM opportunities are listed. Internship opportunities are also available on this website.

- The U. S Department of Energy Girls of Energy website contains lessons, activities and videos within various realms of energy.

- A short 4 minute video titled What is Sustainability? is made available by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Education, PBS Learning Media.


Biotechnology Resources

- Various biotechnology resources, including case studies, curriculum, modules, laboratory protocols, etc., for K-14 educators may be found on the Iowa State University Office of Biotechnology website.

- Locate Genetic Engineering (GE) videos on the Iowa Public Television public broadcasting network.

- Introduction to Biotechnology:  A Georgia Teachers Resource Manual provides resources to implement in current classes or to start a new introduction to biotechnology course.

- Read here about the new crop biotechnology curriculum for high schools published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The curriculum, Science and Our Food Supply:  Exploring Food Agriculture and Biotechnology, Teacher’s Guide for High School Classrooms is located here. More about Agricultural Biotechnology hosted by the U.S. FDA is available at “Feed Your Mind.”

- Activities and lessons on biotechnology are located in the Bio-Technology & the Future, Lessons and Resources – Oklahoma State University 4-H Youth Development website.

- Using Biotechnology to Detect and Treat Disease lesson with videos and photos is available on the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Education, PBS Learning Media website. Check out other Biotechnology videos and resources at KET.

- Check out the Classroom Materials (bioenergy and biofuel-related lessons and activities for elementary, middle school and high school levels) and Education Research (continuous education for K-12 educators) materials provided by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

- Strawberry DNA Extraction Lab high school lesson plan published by NGSS Life Science.

- DNA Fingerprinting Crime Scene lesson plan for high school available on the NGSS Biology website.

- DNA Extraction lesson student handout and teacher notes for high school available on the NGSS Biology website.

-Biotechnology for Middle School Students activities and resources are posted at BIOTECH PROJECT at The University of Arizona.

 - Science Buddies has a host of biotechnology lessons and experiments for all grade levels. 

- Generation Genius has Biotechnology resources in the forms of a lesson plan, video (with questions), reading material, teacher guide, DIY activity guide, and assessment.

-  Check out this Kids Biotech Basics Activity Book (elementary level) provided by the Council for Biotechnology Information


STEM and Other Careers Explored


Check out the interviews by Eric Comley, Garrard County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development, with individuals from various careers to learn more about their careers and how they became interested in their professions. 

- Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. David Hayes (

- Consultant, Former State Representative, and Farmer, Jonathan Shell (

- Nurse Practitioner, Tonya Hatfield (

- Lexington Police Detective, Steve Cobb (

- Occupational Therapist, Emily Dowd (

- Minister, Mike Denney (

- Herpetologist, Kristen Wiley (

- Botanist, Tara Littlefield (

- Board Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Hettinger (

- Survival Instructor, Craig Caudill (

- Biological Consultant, Mark Gumbert (

- Professional Photographer, Sabrina Hounshell (

- Assistant Director for 4-H Youth Development, Dr. Mark Mains (

*More resources will be posted throughout the year. Do you know of or have a sustainability, food, water or energy systems resource you would like posted? Please email it to for consideration.