Last month, thousands of youths across the country celebrated the sixth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day.
This year’s experiment was designed by colleagues of mine at Colorado State University Extension. The experiment, “4-H Maps and Apps,” was designed to engage young people in becoming geospatial thinkers. Participants used GIS (geographic information system) mapping to solve problems, design landscapes and report data about their communities to the United States Geological Survey.
GIS and GPS (global positioning system) mapping has allowed us to view the world in new and exciting ways. There is a driving employment demand for critical thinkers with these skills. Such diverse fields as environmental and agricultural sciences to health care and city planning are looking for qualified candidates with these technological skills. 4-H feels our investment in these educational programs will help our youths meet such demands.
Unfortunately, La Plata County 4-H didn’t receive its kits until last week. However, we have planned to integrate these kits into our San Juan Basin 4-H STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) mobile kits curriculum. These mobile kits will be used to promote 4-H school enrichment and after-school activities.
In addition, the kits can be available for teachers and other educators to use in their classrooms. We have developed a curriculum to meet state K-12 standards. Currently, we are purchasing laptop computers and other essential products for the kits. Our curriculum will focus on four key areas of importance: GIS/GPS technology, robotics, movie-making and clean energy. In addition, all 4-H curriculums integrate important leadership and life-skills components to the lessons.
Furthermore, our traditional club projects will be looking to integrate more STEM elements. For example, adding components of scientific inquiry into our livestock and food (breads, pies, etc.) projects to evaluate nutritional information.
Our goal is to have the kits up and running by the beginning of 2014. We were able to establish this program through the generous support of the Chevron Corp. If any educator would like to learn more about this exciting program, contact me at the Extension Office.
I also would like to highlight the completion of a wonderful year for our La Plata County 4-H Junior Livestock Judging Team. This team, led by 4-H leaders Beth LaShell and Brad Fassett, just returned from the American Royal in Kansas City, Mo.
The American Royal’s purpose is to provide scholarship, education, awards and competitive learning experiences that reward hard work, leadership skills and agrarian values. We are very fortunate to give our youth members such a valuable experience.
Our Junior Livestock Judging Program teaches critical thinking, reasoning, public speaking, team work and responsibility through evaluating the characteristics of livestock. The team doesn’t take a break, as the first meeting for new and returning members in La Plata County will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Pine Room at the Extension building.
email@example.com or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.