Thea Mims, Greenville County 4-H'er, assembles an LED pin in the shape of a 4-H clover during a training exercise.

Thea Mims, Greenville County 4-H’er, assembles an LED pin in the shape of a 4-H clover during a training exercise.
Image Credit: Clemson University

CLEMSON — South Carolina youth can advance their coding and other computer science skills through new 4-H programming supported by donations from Google.org.

South Carolina 4-H received 30 Chromebooks, 20 Google Expedition sets and numerous STEM-based activity kits that teach programming, engineering, soldering and other skills. With one kit, students will learn to make lights out of bananas, for example. They’ll build robots. They’ll sew programmable felt puppets equipped with circuit boards and LED lights.

Google Expedition takes youth all over the world with guided tours shown through virtual reality viewers equipped with smartphones.

The Chromebooks will allow South Carolina 4-H’ers to participate in Google CS First, theme-based clubs that teach coding through a variety of student interests.

“This gift allows us to implement cutting-edge, relevant computer science, coding and virtual-reality technologies into existing 4-H programming across the state, including our South Carolina Military Kids program,” said Ashley Burns, assistant director of South Carolina 4-H. “Computer science education is an exciting next step for our growing STEM-based programming.”

Participation in South Carolina 4-H science, engineering and technology programming has increased 273 percent over the past four years to more than 93,000 youth, Burns said.

Examining the soldering points on an LED pin in the shape of a 4-H clover.

Examining the soldering points on an LED pin in the shape of a 4-H clover.
Image Credit: Clemson University

The donation, which came with $12,000 and training on the equipment and curriculum, comes from a national collaboration between Google.org and the National 4-H Council. Google invested $1.5 million in project, which is expected to reach 100,000 young people across 22 states.

The collaborative aims to reach young people in areas with limited access to computer, internet or computer-science training, and to spur young people’s interest in high-demand careers. In three years, there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs but only 400,000 qualified job candidates, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We are proud to be a part of this effort to bring hands-on programming to our nation’s youth,” said Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org. “It’s important for kids to develop a wide range of skills, like computer science skills, analytical thinking and creative problem-solving, and our work with National 4-H Council will help ensure that kids across the country have access to a better future.”

The activity kits, Google Expedition sets and Chromebooks are available to 4-H Club leaders by contacting burns at taberp@clemson.edu. Parents or youth interested can contact their local 4-H County Extension agent.

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