NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — In New Jersey and all across the country, technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in just three years there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs, and only 400,000 qualified job candidates.
In response, National 4-H Council announced a new $6 million collaboration with Google to bring computer science education to underserved youth across the country. The collaboration will expand the current 4-H CS Career Pathway to reach more than one million youth over the next three years, with a focus on rural youth and populations that have traditionally had limited access to CS education.
In June, 26 Paterson and Trenton Teens from the N.J. 4-H Children, Youth and Families at Risk Science Pathways program participated in an End-of-Year Summit. The support from National 4-H Council and its partnership with Google meant that Googlers (volunteers from Google) attended to teach a computer science activity and speak on the STEM career panel. Teens were able to work closely with Googlers during the activity, showcase their projects, and ask career related questions of our Googlers. Parents came out to support their children during the formal luncheon portion of the summit.
This collaboration is helping students learn more than programming computers. They are being taught skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to agriculture to the arts.
4-H CS programming will take place throughout the next year around the state of New Jersey. Teens and adult volunteers will work with youth to teach hands-on activities focused on coding, robotics and app invention, among other CS topics.
“New Jersey 4-H is delighted to be partnering with Google to provide New Jersey youth high quality, out of school time, computer science experiences,” said Rachel Lyons, chair of the N.J. 4-H Youth Development Program. “Not only do these programs teach important technology-focused skills but they also promote problem solving, critical thinking and analytical reasoning. These skills and abilities will be critical to the success of these young people as they transition into the workforce of the future.”
Google’s support will build upon its prior investment of over $2 million in funding, to support training and resources which helped establish the 4-H CS Pathway that has reached over 325,000 youth since 2017. The collaboration combines the reach and educational expertise of 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, and the power of Google’s CS products, educational programs, and employee volunteers who have dedicated more than 1,000 hours to support 4-H youth as they explore CS. In New Jersey, Google’s support will equip 4-H educators with new funding, curriculum, training, devices and access to Google CS experts. As with most 4-H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.
“I am looking forward to help make STEM and [computer science] a more mainstream level of learning and make it so youth won’t feel like they have to have a certain skill to do computer science,” said Amiri Smith, N.J. 4-H CS Pathways teen leader.
Read more about the initial collaboration that established the 4-H CS Pathway across 23 states.
Parents and educators seeking more information on how to get involved can reach out to their local 4-H office.
— Rutgers University