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About the 2022 4‑H STEM Challenge

Designed by Rutgers University, Explorers of the Deep focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration—with robots! Young people learn how to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to explore Earth’s Ocean and how it relates to all life on the planet.

The 2022 Challenge helps young people develop observational and critical thinking skills while exploring the interconnected nature between the ocean and humans, regardless of where they live. They will learn about the incredibly complex relationship between Earth’s oceans and the global climate. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of teens would like to be involved with shaping the future of our environment.

Explorers of the Deep can help empower young people to innovate and take action to drive positive change.

The 2022 STEM Challenge has been endorsed by the UN as a Decade of Ocean Science activity!


The reviews are in!

This kit is delightful! A real treasure, and something I intend to use again and again.

 Loved the connection to the ocean literacy principles.

 Throughout all the activities, the kids genuinely learned something new while having fun and working together.


Explorers of the Deep

Explorers of the Deep consists of three activities that can be done all at once or individually, making it highly adaptable for classrooms, afterschool programs, clubs and more:

Ocean Robot Test Tank is an activity where youth learn how to “ballast” their ocean robot by adding weights to replicate the sinking and floating behavior of a real ocean robot. They will investigate data collected by ocean robots and learn about the value of ocean exploration.

Ocean Expedition is a board game where youth navigate their ocean robot around the world while learning key ocean concepts. Topics include aquaculture, climate change, innovation, human impact and the ocean ecosystem.

Ocean Communicator is an activity in which young people investigate challenges that ocean scientists, engineers and technologists are currently exploring. They design and advocate for innovations and technical solutions that inspire public action.

Aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

How to get started

Purchase a kit from Shop 4‑H that includes all the basic materials needed to complete each learning activity at home or in a small group setting.

  • A basic kit includes materials for 4-6 youth.
  • For groups of more than 6 youth, additional supplies (youth guides, gliders, and board games) are available for purchase.
  • Kits can be used in spaces where physical distancing can be observed.

STEM Challenge webinar for educators

Join experts from Rutgers University and National 4‑H Council for an on-demand webinar training for educators to learn more about this year’s STEM Challenge, Explorers of the Deep.

Explorers of the Deep resources

Explorers of the Deep - Facilitator Guide - Español
Explorers of the Deep - Facilitator Guide - Español
Explorers of the Deep - Youth Guide - Español
Explorers of the Deep - Youth Guide - Español
Explorers of the Deep - Facilitator Guide - English
Explorers of the Deep - Facilitator Guide - English
Explorers of the Deep - Youth Guide - English
Explorers of the Deep - Youth Guide - English
STEM Challenge 2022 - Explorers of the Deep - Social Media Graphics
STEM Challenge 2022 - Explorers of the Deep - Social Media Graphics

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Past Challenges

Since 2008, 4‑H STEM Challenge, formerly known as 4‑H National Youth Science Day (NYSD), has been the premier national rallying event for year-round 4‑H science programming, bringing together youth, volunteers and educators from all over the country to complete hands-on STEM activities.


2021: Galactic Quest

Designed by Clemson University, the 2021 4‑H STEM Challenge, Galactic Quest, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of space exploration.

Galactic Quest explores the history of humans in space, the technology and resources needed for missions, and the obstacles humans encounter in orbit. Activities explore important STEM topics ranging from physics and engineering to computer science and space agriculture.


2020: Mars Base Camp

The 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge will explore sending a mission to Mars with the activity, Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches young people ages 8-14 STEM skills like mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture.