George Lucas Educational Foundation

4-H Goes Digital

The Tech Wizards after-school program uses technology to introduce Latino students to careers and educational pathways in science, technology, engineering, and math.
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4-H Goes Digital (Transcript)

Voice Over: Many people think of Four H clubs as kids with cows, but in fact, Four H has been a leader in technology education since the early nineteen hundreds. Back then, adult farmers resisted adopting new discoveries in agriculture, but educators found that kids were eager to experiment, and would share the new ideas with adults. Four H became a way to introduce new agriculture technology to America.

Cecilia Giron: These ones. These ones right here.

Voice Over: Today, that tradition continues in Washington County, Oregon.

Luis: Testing.

Voice Over: Where one prominent Four H project is known as the Intel Four H Tech Wizards.

Student 1: Do you wanna make it go fast, right?

Voice Over: Here, young people are being introduced to careers in science and technology through Lego robotics, video production, Web Two point O and a geographic information system community mapping.

Student 2: -- practicamos approximalamente una semana antes--

Lisa Conroy: They learn skills after school with us a couple of hours a week, and fifty hours of content, actually, during a year's time.

Cecilia Giron: I told them that we're gonna try and test the robot.

Lisa Conroy: We have professionals in the field who mentor the high school students and the high school students mentor younger students in all kinds of topics that have to do with science, technology, engineering or math.

Student 1: We want it to move when you clap, then it will do that.

Voice Over: The eighty six percent drop out rate and under representation in the fields of science and technology among Latino youth motivated business, government and community groups to join with Four H to create the program in nineteen ninety nine.

Lisa Conroy: All the programming that we do meets the Oregon diploma requirements. It's workforce development, but it's also exposure to careers and education pathways.

Cecilia Giron: Lo que dice en el corazon a una persona de la clase.

Voice Over: For some students, the program makes them feel at home in their schools for the first time.

Lucy Aguilar: I think especially the newcomers feel like they're not part of this institution. They come here to learn English. So a program like this, because it's done in their native language, primarily, it allows them that connection.

Voice Over: Schools identify kids who might have an interest in the program, and students apply to join.

Lisa Conroy: It's a combination of youth intra space, and then the community comes forward with mentors, professional mentors, and real world projects. And then, of course, we spend some time in the classroom teaching skills.

Cecilia Giron: So if you wanna make it stable, you need to-- yeah.

Voice Over: Students apply their new skills to valuable community projects such as a street tree survey for the city of Hillsboro, in which they use GIS technology to create a digital inventory of the city's trees.

Lisa Conroy: So we really have the capability to have the kids see that what they learn is directly connected to their communities, and that they can be a community resource, engaging in that community, to make a difference in the future.

Teacher 1: So we have two computers right now. We're broadcasting live, so estamos en vivo--

Voice Over: Continuing the Four H tradition, students share their new ideas and technology with adults.

Luis: Bueno, finalmente que lo yo, come Pedro--

Cecilia Giron: We are celebrating the achievements of the students, the high school students. They come here and they show their projects to their parents.

Luis: This right here, it's got the brain of the robot. It's called the brick. And what the brick is, it handles all the information. All the information of the program is stored in the robot.

Lisa Conroy: Ninety five percent of the kids who are in our program graduate from high school, and seventy percent of those go on to post high school education.And we're very proud of the fact that fifty percent of the participants are females.

Cecilia Giron: We have a lot of support from the parents in the community because they believe in the program and they see the changes their children have made, and that tells a lot.

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Carl Bidleman

Coordinating Producer

  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Steve Jensen

Camera Crew

  • Lyle Morgan
  • Jesse Nordhausen
  • Ted Cutler

Production Support

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely


  • Kris Welch

Senior Video Editor

  • Karen Sutherland

Executive Producer

  • Ken Ellis


Web 2.0: The second generation of the World Wide Web, expecially the movement away from static Web pages to dynamic and shareable content and social networking.

Lego Robotics: A line of Lego kits used to explore robotics, mechanical systems, electronics, and programming.

Geographic information system (GIS): A system that integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.



Discussion Questions

1. Are you surprised to see 4-H involved with digital technology? Is this involvement a natural extension of its traditional focus on agricultural education? Why, or why not?

2. How is mentoring a central component to the Tech Wizards program?

3. What is the educational impact of the Tech Wizards program? Would a program like this work in your community?




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