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WVU Extension Service's 4-H program tapped to lead 2018 National Youth Science activities

Students learning about computer coding at a camp

The roots of 4-H run deep in the field of agriculture. During the past 10 years those roots have grown to include a focus on science technology engineering and math (STEM) activities. In 2008, 4-H hosted the first National Youth Science Day (NYSD) — the world’s largest youth-led science challenge — to give students a peek at these dynamic and interesting fields of study.

Ten years later, West Virginia University Extension’s 4-H program has been tapped to lead the 2018 NYSD challenge which will be held throughout October. WVU’s program was chosen via a competitive selection process conducted by the National 4-H Council, USDA-NIFA and Google to serve as the lead land-grant university for the event. 

As part of this STEM program, a group from WVU Extension 4-H  will create curriculum and hands-on activities focused around the theme of computer science. WVU Extension faculty are working with Google team members to develop a challenge that introduces youth to coding through both plugged and unplugged activities. 

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to lead 4-H’s National Youth Science Day activities this year. Computer science is becoming increasingly embedded across all industries, including medicine, fashion, entertainment and the agricultural sector. Jobs in coding-related fields are growing at a faster rate than any other occupation,” said Jennifer Robertson-Honecker, assistant professor and STEM specialist, WVU Extension. “This year’s challenge provides such an opportunity to help engage students in hands-on computer science activities, as well as introduce them to a knowledge base that may help them with future career choices.” 

The challenge will provide youth with “real-world” applications to coding and computer science by exploring real-life algorithms and block style coding. The project will also provide students with insights into major technological advances taking place within various industries as well as the types of jobs available in the field. 

National Youth Science Day is aligned with WVU’s focus on providing STEM readiness, including programs like WVU Teach, the WVU Center for Excellence in STEM's  CodeWV and opportunities through the WVU Statler College’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The activity also provides opportunities for additional partnerships with companies and organizations who support STEM initiatives.

Last year’s NYSD challenge focused on the theme “incredible wearables” in which kids learned about and built wearable fitness trackers. WVU Extension 4-H faculty and specialists led NYSD activities in schools throughout West Virginia, as well as at various 4-H events.

WVU Extension’s 4-H program is located in all 55 counties in West Virginia and serves more than 60,000 youths through clubs, camps and school-based programming. 

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