The 4-H Tech Wizards program seeks to give high school students who are nontraditional learners the opportunity to explore science and technology with a person who works in a related field. This program provides hands-on learning with technology not typically offered to students in the alternative education environment.
Students and their mentors are introduced to robotics, rocketry, web application creation, multimedia production, GPS and GIS mapping; as well as such environmental science categories as biofuels, water systems and wind power. This program is project-based, and students and mentors are challenged to learn and teach a subject of their interest with the goal of presenting a finished product in a science symposium for the community.
Professionals from the Innotec and Ventura Manufacturing plants in Zeeland have been mentoring students of the Juvenile Justice Institute since May, taking two hours a week from their workday to mentor. JJI lead teacher Rachael Bremer said she has seen the difference in her students.
“My students look forward to the time they get to spend with their mentors,” Bremer said. “Student attendance has increased, behaviors have improved and quality of classwork has improved.”
The 4-H Tech Wizards program is funded through the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program, and is partnered with Michigan State University Extension and the Ottawa County 20th Circuit Court Family Division/Juvenile Services.
If you or your company are interested in becoming a mentor for 4-H Tech Wizards, call Laura Schleede, 4-H Mentoring Educator, at 616-994-4580; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.