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After-School Program Focuses on Technology

(PRWEB) August 10, 2006 -- A new Penn State Cooperative Extension program is introducing at-risk youth to careers in information sciences and technology.

 “  Students then use these new skills in community service-learning projects that are designed to increase a sense of mattering in their communit...  
Youth Engaged in Technology (YET), part of the 4-H Afterschool initiative, involves fun-filled activities that focus on technology, says Daniel Perkins, associate professor of agricultural and extension education
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 and YET project director. “The YET program employs technology as a vehicle to engage young people in contributing to their community. It helps youth increase their knowledge and use of technology, improve their academic skills related to math and science, and enhances their marketable skills,” he says.

There are three YET club sites in Potter and Washington Counties: Galeton High School
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, Northern Potter High School and Washington High School. According to Perkins, club members are in grades nine through 11 and meet twice a week throughout the school year. “The curriculum fosters skills in technology, science and math through Web site development, robotics, GPS/GIS and digital photography/video. Students then use these new skills in community service-learning projects that are designed to increase a sense of mattering in their community,” he explains.

Projects include community computer workshops, watershed mapping with GPS and GIS systems, Web site development for community organizations, designing and publishing a school newspaper, and teaching elementary students about GPS and GIS technology. The students have also attended field trips to learn
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 about nanofabrication technology, GPS and GIS systems, information science and technology, and robotics.

With two years remaining, the project has already netted some impressive results: Among participants, Perkins has documented a 30 percent increase in GPS knowledge, a 24 percent increase in GIS knowledge and a 19 percent increase in knowledge of robotics. In addition, 30 percent of participating girls are now expressing an interest in technology careers because of the program.

The program is funded by a five-year grant from the Children, Youth and Families at Risk Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information about YET contact Perkins at (814) 865-6988. For more information on 4-H Afterschool and enrichment programs, contact Claudia Mincemoyer, associate professor of agricultural and extension education, at (814) 863-7851 or by e-mail. You can also visit the national 4-H Afterschool Web site at http://www.4hafterschool.org/, or visit the Pennsylvania 4-H Web site at http://pa4h.psu.edu/.

The mission of 4-H is to help young people become self-directed, productive and contributing members of a diverse society. Pennsylvania 4-H is coordinated by Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Editors Contact:
Kristie Auman-Bauer
Writer/Editor
(814) 865-2839


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