Many young people today do not have the necessary science, engineering, and technology workforce skills to compete in the twenty-first century. 4-H, the youth development program of the Cooperative Extension System of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Land-grant Universities, plays a leading role in engaging youth to explore these critical high-tech areas.
For more than one hundred years, 4-H youth have been involved in demonstration projects that bring innovation and understanding of land-grant university research to local communities. Begun in the vocational agricultural tradition, early 4-H programs sought to educate youth in the latest research on crop production or food preservation. Today 4-H’s approach is more comprehensive and holistic; from agriculture to climate change to alternative energy, youth are learning about highly relevant issues that will ensure their contributions to their communities today and their success as global leaders tomorrow.
In an effort to prepare youth for the high-tech world, the University of Maryland Extension 4-H program has incorporated robotics into its curriculum. Festival visitors experienced the variety of robotics projects that engage youth, ages five to eighteen, across the state of Maryland. Visitors met University of Maryland Extension faculty, volunteers, and 4-H youth currently involved in the program; and participated in hands-on, interactive robotics demonstrations.