Oregon State University and its 4-H program are opening the world of technology to the next generation and preparing them to lead the future.
Through the Tech Wizards program, boys and girls in grades four through twelve apply Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning to create digital media projects, produce videos and podcasts, and even build Lego and FIRST Tech robots. Conducted in English and Spanish, the program focuses on audiences and youth in diverse communities, students who are often underrepresented in the STEM fields. Since its launch in 1998, the program has served thousands of Oregon students and has expanded to about one hundred sites nationwide, including a growing number of military bases. In the past two years, the national 4-H program and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has selected the program for implementation in one hundred communities across the U.S.
Tech Wizards has helped students become more successful in school, at home, and in their communities. In Washington County, Oregon, where 4-H Tech Wizards began, the program has a 95 percent completion rate, 95 percent of its participants graduate from high school, and 70 percent go on to college. Tech Wizards has become so well recognized as a powerful program for youth achievement that its participants were invited to First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2011 National Mentoring Conference at the Library of Congress.
At the Festival, potential wizards were invited to explore rocket making, principles of flight and solar powered vehicles.