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Tech Wizards - 'Fugees 4 SHIM

Posted: February 15, 2017

Allegheny County 4-H, through the Penn State Extension, currently supports three Tech Wizard locations in East Liberty, Whitehall, and the Hill.

The Tech Wizards program strives to bridge the gap between STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) industry needs and education by reaching youth who may not have considered STEAM careers. Supported nationally by the National 4-H Council, Tech Wizards matches adult mentors with small groups of students, with mentees ranging from 8 to 17 years old. Each week Tech Wizard groups take on projects that range from “stomp rockets” to “junk drawer robotics” and many other hands-on learning activities.

At the Tech Wizards Prospect Park site, six middle school students meet in the Family Center in their housing development in Whitehall every Tuesday from 5-7pm. The group was established by the South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM), programmatically supported by the Allegheny County 4-H program, to provide support for families who have settled in the United States to make a better life for themselves.

On a recent Tuesday evening, the students were beginning their next project—building a remotely controlled underwater vehicle. The students were reading the instructions for a regional competition, which includes the submission of an engineering notebook including a team name, information about the team and the building process.

According to the instructions, a creative team name is encouraged. They brainstormed for a while and unanimously decided on ‘Fugees 4 SHIM, a name that reflects the support from 4-H, SHIM and that they and their families are all refugees from Tibet.

If you met our Prospect Park Tech Wizard students you wouldn’t know they are ‘Fugees. They are typical 6th graders. They are energetic. They don’t sit still for very long. They often forget the “use inside voices” rule. They like music and to dance. One student loves to draw. Two others seem well suited to careers in engineering or math and one wants to be a doctor.

While Tech Wizards was born out of a Federal program and has financial support at state and county levels, in the end it’s the students in classrooms and conference rooms around the country that are the essence of the program. Like our 6th grade students that came up with a name that combines the 4-H, SHIM and their complicated history from refugee camps to a noisy room in Pittsburgh on Tuesday evenings.

Contact Information

Cindy Hasenjager
  • Tech Wizards Staff