This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
When you think of 4-H, what comes to mind? Is it farm-related or do you have events like the 4-H National Youth Science Day come to mind?
My experience with 4-H has been limited. I do recall having limited exposure during my junior high years with things like learning about being a babysitter and how to cook basic foods. As a mom, I have seen entries at the Alaska State Fair, but most of them are artistic or back to the agricultural roots.
But, 4-H is so much more, including a focus on STEM topics. You know, the science and math areas that some kids avoid like the plague?
2018 4-H National Youth Science Day Challenge: Code Your World
4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD) is an annual initiative to inspire kids everywhere to take an interest in STEM topics (science, technology engineering, and math) through hands-on doing.
While NYSD is celebrated nationally on October 1st, events are taking place throughout the month of October in classrooms, clubs, homes, and afterschool spaces across the country.
This year, their challenge is titled Code Your World and invites kids to get involved in computer science through fun hands-on activities.
Young people can and should be learning how to create technology rather than just being consumers of it. Technology is in all areas of our life. Computer science is a skill set that impacts everything from the food we eat, the gadgets we love, and the medicine that helps to heal us.
Code Your World, four-part challenge that teaches kids computer science skills through fun topics like digital animation, gaming, and dance, was developed by Google and West Virginia University Extension Service. The goal is to not only help young people understand the world around them but to find success in the careers of tomorrow.
Glimpse Inside 4-H National Youth Science Day Challenge: Code Your World
Contrary to public belief, computer science isn’t just about coding. Through the hands-on CS activities in Code Your World, kids will learn essential life skills like problem-solving, teamwork and resiliency that will help prepare them for college and career.
For the computer-based element of Code Your World, Google and 4-H teamed up to create a new beginner-friendly CS First activity called “Animate a Name.” Animate a Name teaches kids the fundamentals of coding, alongside important problem-solving and collaboration skills, while they learn to make a name come to life through animation, sound, and music. It can be a nickname, the name of a favorite sports team, a place, activity or anything else kids can think of! The kit provides the option to do the activity on or offline.
The other activities do not require kids to use a computer. With the kit we were sent, I chose to start with the Artificial Intelligence activity which uses the familiar Rock-Paper-Scissors game to teach about AI.
Within the activity, kids use both a die and a ‘coin’ to see how AI can be used for playing this popular kids game. The teacher guide provides background to share as well as complete instructions. The student guide has the basics they and includes what the algorithm for the coin toss option looks like in Python (a programming language.)
When asked the activity follow-up questions, my youngest son shared that he preferred playing as a human against the AI dice rolled by his brother. He felt like he won more often.
Code Your World Kit In Action: Artificial Intelligence
Final Thoughts on 4-H National Youth Science Day
While we only did the one activity so far, I can see how this kit will give me some fun homeschool time with my boys. Like many parents, I want to see them find a career they can enjoy and earn a living wage doing. Computer science is one path that shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to the needs of the workplace.
This means I need to provide them with a solid foundation in math and logic skills. And, the opportunity to learn more about the career paths they could choose to take. Son #3 is good at math and enjoys it, so I can see him getting through Calculus in high school. My youngest also enjoys doing math and surprises his older brothers when he can figure out simple problems in his head without taking the same steps they learned.
What are some ways you encourage your kids to learn STEM topics?
Is Coding something your kids have tried?
Are they going to be participating in 4-H National Youth Science Day?