Introducing youth to robotics before high school may spark an interest to become future engineers. Fun hands-on activties with robotics will build creativity, develop math skills and stimulate young minds.
4-H has developed comprehensive robotics programs that inspire young people and help them develop an early interest in engineering and technology. Robotics was part of the 2009 4-H campaign, One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas, to engage one million new young people in science by the year 2013. Introducing youth to science activities like robotics, will address the declining trend in our nation’s science, engineer, mathematics and technology workforce.
4-H Robotics is delivered through 4-H clubs, camps, school enrichment and after-school programs nationwide. Through 4-H Science programs such as robotics, many opportunities are provided for youth. The National 4-H Robotics curriculm and program titled 4-H Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow, helps youth build an understanding of basic science concepts related to robotics. The Junk Drawer Robotics curriculm engages youth, ages 10 through 13, in understanding scientific concepts, the engineering design process cycle, and technology creation and building by working with household items to complete simple design challenges. An additional resource to explore or add to a Michigan 4-H robotics project is LEGO® Education. LEGO has many resources that include robotics, non-computer simple machines and WeDo-computer based for K-4th grades. To learn more about the WeDo Software, you can check out their software tutorials, which contain helpful getting started information. Once youth become involved with the robotics they may become involved with a FIRST Lego League, FIRST Lego League competion or 4-H robotics event like the Regional 4-H Robotics Challenge event that was held in 2014 at the Fairgrounds in Barry County . There are many 4-H robotic programs, workshops, camps, 4-H Tech Wizard programs, and science or robotic 4-H Clubs to get involved with or partiicapte in.
The Michigan State University Extension article, 4-H is engaging youth in robotics highlights the importance of getting youth started early in technology. MSU Extension 4-H science and technology youth development programming offer many educational opportunities that can be combined in relation to engineering. These science activities provide children with life skills lessons in problem solving, critical thinking and decision making. The hands-on experiential learning (pdf) is also fun and educational. When participating in these types of robotic activities youth develop the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and creative skills which are important to have as our future workforce.