National Robotics in 4-H: Workforce Skills for the 21st Century
Robotics and GPS/GIS in 4-H: Workforce Skills for the 21st Century is a-five year scale-up project to use 4-H clubs to prepare middle school youth for the STEM workplace. The project builds on and extends an existing research-based ITEST project by developing and testing new national curricula to introduce basic technology skills, foster problem solving and inquiry skills, and encourage teamwork. A professional development model to support youth learning of concepts focused on information and communications technology is designed and delivered to adult volunteers, after-school educators, and parents. The participation of girls and underrepresented populations is broadened through opportunities for collaboration and social networking and infusing cultural awareness within the project deliverables. The impact of these activities on youth STEM literacy, attitudes and workplace skills is documented. Research is performed to better understand how hands-on, inquiry-based robotics and GPS/GIS activities presented in an informal learning environment can effectively interest and prepare youth for the STEM workforce. Research questions include measures of how educational robotics interventions impact youth STEM literacy, workforce skills, and attitudes about STEM content. The research also investigates the use of the 4-H robotics curriculum to positively impact instructional practice of informal educators, their STEM content knowledge and their confidence.