4-H brings STEM to military children

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beth Kobily
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

<!DOCTYPE html>




<p>Representatives from the 4-H division of Penn State Extension brought the power of coding to the children of 911th Airlift Wing members in an Air Force-sponsored program called Game Changers.</p>


<p>Game Changers was designed by Google, 4-H and West Virginia Extension service to engage youth in different aspects of computer science.</p>


<p>The program was backed by the Air Force in an effort to expose more young people to science, technology, engineering, and math education. </p>


<p>“We’re excited to partner with 4‑H to emphasize STEM, teamwork, collaboration and the roles each play in the success of the U.S. Air Force,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief of Air Force Experiential Marketing. “It is also important that we inspire the next generation of innovators and leaders in STEM to consider service in the U.S. Air Force as they pursue their skills and interest.”</p>


<p>Matthew Crutchman, extension educator with 4-H Youth Development, received donated kits from Google to share with military families. He said his goal for bringing the program to the 911th AW was to start building a relationship with the base and military families in terms of coding-related activities Pennsylvania 4-H has available.</p>


<p>11-year-old Camerin Andrulis, who does coding at his middle school, came to see what the program had to offer. His goal? To have fun.</p>


<p>There were four activities during the event: Hack Your Harvest, Program Your Playground, Pitch Your Passion, and Augmented Reality/ Tech. Playground. They also watched a program called Netflix Explained: Coding.</p>


<p>The Hack Your Harvest game served as an introduction into the concept of coding. The game was played on six by six grid. The goal was to move a tractor pawn from the space at the top left of the board to the barn, the space at the bottom right, in the least amount of moves. The tractor’s movements were tracked as a sequence above the board. As the levels progressed, obstacles were introduced such as brambles, as well as the challenge of collecting corn placed throughout the board on the way to the barn.</p>


<p>“Recognizing patterns is great for youth to start understanding and writing code,” said Crutchman.</p>


<p>Andrulis was able to develop his own game of tag in the activity Program Your Playground. Using small beach balls, the game got more and more complex as he added new game rules, such as freezing, spinning and doing push-ups.</p>


<p>The game Pitch Your Passion used CS First and Scratch technology to allow kids to create their own animation, including adding sound bytes, movement and characters. </p>


<p>I thought Pitch Your Passion was great because it's letting the youth actually come up with something they're passionate about and coding it, and then telling everybody what they're passionate about,” said Crutchman. “It's like giving them that piece that's theirs.”</p>


<p>To close the program, Crutchman introduced an indoor flying drone with motion sensors on the sides, top and bottom that allowed it to be programmed by hand movements. </p>


<p> When asked what his favorite part of the program was, Andrulis’ face lit up. “The drone,” he beamed. </p>


<p>Coding is a language that needs to be taught at a young age,” said Crutchman, who hopes to continue his relationship with the base and hopefully offer further opportunities in the future. “I feel like it’s connecting them to so many careers and it’s growing.”</p>