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Tech Wizards Program Partners Teens with Mentors for Success

Posted: March 18, 2015

This program focuses on teaching youth about science and technology concepts while partnering them with a mentor for school and social success.

The 4-H program at Penn State Extension has received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs to support TechWizards, a 4-H Science and mentoring program for at-risk youth in Venango County. The Franklin School District is hosting the Science After School program with Holly Johnson serving as the program coordinator. This program focuses on teaching youth about science and technology concepts while partnering them with a mentor for school and social success.

The program is designed to bring community and school together for support of the young people involved. Engagement of local businesses and adults enables young people to project themselves into the future by seeing where job opportunities exist in their local areas. They also have an adult who they can trust to help them with life decisions in addition to their parents or guardians. The mentoring component serves to provide guidance for the youth and help them to make positive decisions with regard to things like school attendance, community service, lawfulness, peer to peer interactions and academic engagement.

The program also enables teens to become mentors to youth in robotics concepts. The Team 3954 4-H Electrotechs (pictured here) are partnering with the Franklin after school program to teach the youth participants about junk drawer robotics and application of robotics concepts: all 4-H science concepts through 4-H projects.

The current TechWizard focus is on engineering design with robotics and electronics through Lego mind storms robotics platforms and FIRST robotics competitions. Future plans include Sea Perch, a Remote Operated underwater Vehicle (ROV) and stop action animation. Summer day camps will also be offered to enable youth to continue their mentor relationships throughout the summer.

For more information on the TechWizards program or on 4-H Robotics programs, please contact Extension Educator Patty Anderson, pag2@psu.edu.