Massachusetts 4-H is grateful for having received it's second Google Grant and are a Computer Science Launcher this year to promote computational thinking and career exploration in computer science. Our first grant was of equipment of 30 chromebooks, two virtual reality kits along with some Arduinos, books and National Youth Science Day kits. We also were invited to have teens participate as CS Teen Leaders in leading the 2018 NYSY "Code Your World" activities where they got to participate in webinar trainings with the National 4-H Council, Google and other Teens across the county. We had two teams take on the challenge in Worcester and Hampden County. After utilizing the ewuipment at winter forum, Explore UMass, the BigE and other venues like our STEM Ambassador program we applied to be a CS Launcher in December of 2018 and was sucessful.
With the grant award we were able to send to adults and three of our CS Teen Leaders to Utah for a National training to learn from the prior CS Launcher states. Having completed a Plan of Work the team came back and dug in. As a result of their hardwork we have piloted a NEW Computer Science IMPACT program that not only clubs can use, but libraries, schools and afterschool partners. Part of that enthusiasm is seen in our Logo design. The best part of this new curriculum is that is using primarily "unplugged" activities using minimal supplies and an introduction to block coding using scratch which is a free block programming software developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)our fellow landgrant in Massachusetts. Teen leaders and adult facilitators do not need prior knowledge of computers or coding to facilitate. It has a low threshold to get youth started in computational thinking, but a high ceiling for those who get inspired to go beyond the basics.
Another great way to start is with the 2019 National Youth Science Day "Game Changers". October, 4‑H launched, Game Changers designed by Google and West Virginia Extension service. Game Changers teaches kids ages 8-14 how to use computer science (CS) to create games, solve problems and engage with topics they’re passionate about. Game Changers uses physical activity and puzzles to teach kids important CS concepts and problem-solving skills, creating real-world connections between computer science and civic engagement, healthy living and agriculture. Although the challenge includes one computer-based and two unplugged activities to help kids learn CS, all can be completed without internet access.
This year we have grown our number of CS Teens and a few Tweens to ten and our Berkshire County Team will be accompanying Kim Pond to DC for the STEM Summit. Massachusetts 4-H had three workshop proposals accepted so along with learning from other we will be sharing the work happening in MA. Our CS leaders have already been busy presenting programs in their communities and have a lot more planned and there is always room for more.