National Youth Science Day is a hands-on STEM challenge organized through 4-H every year. It’s designed to bring together multiple 4-H clubs, groups, classrooms, and students ages 8-14 to work toward a common goal. Though the day is organized through 4-H, you don’t have to be in 4-H to participate! You can take part on your own by downloading a kit or purchasing the full version online.
Code Your World
This year’s theme, created by a collaboration between Google and the West Virginia University 4-H extension, is Code Your World. It focuses on building computer science skills through computational thinking concepts. The day includes four hands-on activities, including one that uses Google’s CS First coding platform.
The Importance of Computer Science
In this day and age, the benefits of learning computer science extend beyond simple coding skills. Computer science can introduce kids to new ways of thinking about and approaching problems. And this doesn’t just apply to scientific pursuits either. In fact, 4-H reports that kids that have taken computer science generally score higher on standardized exams in not only math, but also in reading comprehension and language arts. In addition, these skills are some of the most needed in the U.S. and global workforce. Employees who know how to code are in high demand, and openings vary across many different career fields, including medicine, agriculture, business and architecture. These openings will only continue to grow, making any knowledge of computer science and coding very valuable for kids and adults.
Computational Thinking Basics
For the most part, kids learn computer science by using the basics of computational thinking. The core concepts of computational thinking are
Decomposition: The process of breaking problems down into component parts so you can solve one problem at a time.
Pattern Recognition: The process of seeing repeating sequences so you can better understand what comes next.
Abstraction: The process of boiling a problem down to only the data that matters and ignoring any irrelevant data.
Algorithm Design: The process of creating step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish a task.
All four of these techniques apply directly to computer science, and all are important in understanding and applying code. These four concepts also align with the four activities included in the 4-H National Youth Science Day.
Animate a Name: The last activity uses Google’s CS First coding platform to build out a customized animation using code. Kids can use all of the concepts they’ve learned in other activities to complete this coding task.
Code Your Dance: This unplugged activity helps strengthen algorithm design technique by allowing kids to create step-by-step instructions. In part one, kids will write code for computers to follow for the chicken dance. In part two, kids will design their own dance and teach it to others.
Artificial Intelligence: This unplugged activity helps strengthen kids’ understanding of abstraction and decomposition. In it, kids play rock paper scissors with dice to learn the ins and outs of random number generation.
Color Your World: The color your world activity (which also takes place without a computer) uses map coloring to help kids develop pattern recognition. The activity helps kids solve a common problem in Computer science – map coloring, in which one has to use the smallest number of colors to fill in a map so that no country is the same color as its neighbors. Part one allows kids to determine the smallest number of colors it takes to fill in a country map and part two allows kids to create their own maps and color them.
How You Can Participate
Help 4-H reach the participation goal of 150,000 National Youth Science Day participants in 2018! Download or purchase a kit to register today!
HughesNet is a proud sponsor of 4-H and 4-H National Youth Science Day. To learn more about our sponsorship visit HughesNet.com/4H.