Massachusetts 4-H is excited to announce that it has been awarded a second Google grant. The state will participate as a Computer Science (CS) Launcher this year to promote computational thinking and career exploration in computer science. Last year's grant funded the purchase of 30 chromebooks and two virtual reality kits along with some Arduinos, books and National Youth Science Day kits.
With this year's award we were able to send a team of adults and three CS Teen Leaders to Utah for a national 4-H CS Launcher training. Having developed their plan of work, the MA team came back and dug in! As a result of their hardwork we have piloted a NEW Computer Science IMPACT program that can be used by 4-H clubs, libraries, schools and afterschool partners. The enthusiasm of our teens is seen in the logo design (pictured above). The best part of this new curriculum is that it utilizes primarily "unplugged" activities and minimal supplies to introduce computer coding using scratch. Scratch is a free block programming software developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Teen leaders and adult facilitators do not need prior knowledge of computers or coding to facilitate the activities. There is 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". On October 1st 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 MA 4-H CS Teens and a few Tweens to ten. The 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 states we will be sharing the exciting work happening in MA. Our CS leaders have already been busy presenting programs in their communities and have a lot more planned.