ASQ - Education Division

The 4-H Tech Wizards Program: Engaging Underserved Youth in STEM

Abstract: This paper is written by Dr. Joanna M. Skluzacek, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Michelle Gonzalez, Jolene Arnold and Pam Kelly, of the University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension. This paper is included in the Proceedings for the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference.

The 4-H Tech Wizards Program is a national program funded through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention whose mission is to engage youth from economically depressed areas in robotics and STEM related activities while providing a strong small group mentoring environment. In Wisconsin, the program reaches over 100 youth in four counties: Kenosha, Racine, Crawford and Milwaukee. Youth ages 8-17 are paired with adult mentors who are trained in aspects of positive youth development and evidence-based standards. This paper describes the Wisconsin 4-H Tech Wizards Program which includes a robotic competition based on robots such as the LEGO NXT Mindstorm Robots.

This paper will discuss the implications of this program in terms of positive youth development and the engagement of economically disadvantaged groups in informal STEM programs including the strategies for recruiting and retaining mentors and youth in the program. The authors will review the implementation strategies and funding requirements, while discussing the plan to expand the mentoring model into Tribal Communities of northern Wisconsin. The results of evaluations concerning STEM skills gained through the program and the importance of the frequent mentoring component will also be shared.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - K-12 Outreach - Hands-on Learning

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