NJ 4-H Stays Connected to its Community Partners in Urban Areas with Computer Science (CS) Unplugged
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Posted by: Marycarmen Kunicki, Rutgers, The State University
In response to the global pandemic, in early spring of 2020, New Jersey 4-H suspended all in-person programs. While this certain was a challenge, because of support from National 4-H and Google, young people across New Jersey were able to continue to be engaged in STEM activities.
With the support of National 4-H Council and Google, the Department of 4-H Youth Development at Rutgers has created and distributed 700 CS Unplugged Family Kits to community partners to our urban communities across the state. With continued restrictions on in-person programming for The Department of 4-H Youth Development, one way to continue to stay connected is to provide resources to some of its many community partners around the state. A total of 700 CS Unplugged Family Kits have been created and distributed to 8 different County 4-H offices, 7 in our most urban areas: Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Mercer, Middlesex, & Union Counties.
Many of the 4-H programs in urban areas provide STEM programming on a regular basis in collaboration with these community partners, running Science Saturdays, participating in library Maker Days, running afterschool programs focused on STEM, and others. Community partners include local libraries, public school systems, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, and local food distribution sites. Reaching mostly non-4-H families. This is one way for NJ 4-H to stay connected to its many community partners, ones in which NJ 4-H Faculty/Staff usually provide in person programming and are not able to during this time. Elian Mustafa, Girls Programing Coordinator at the YWCA of Northern New Jersey says, “These STEM kits will be given to girls who participate in the YWCA NNJ’s SAS Girls Program (Serious about STEM). The STEM kits will allow these girls to still practice STEM concepts when they are at home, allowing them to maintain/increase their interest in pursuing STEM work.”
CS Unplugged Family Kits consist of the following: My 2020 COVID-19 Time Capsule (along with 4-H Colored Pencils), Family Technology Cards (Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative), Chalk Coding Activity with Sidewalk Chalk (Utah 4-H), Origami Coding Activity with Origami paper (Teach Your Kids to Code Website), and SparkFun Paper Circuit Activity (batteries included).
All computer science activities included in these kits are hands-on, family friendly, which the whole family can work on together without a computer. Materials are provided for many of the activities and other activities need materials can be found around the home.
Here’s how one local library is getting kits out to families: