This summer our Bladen County 4-H program has been Growing 4-H: Full STEAM Ahead, offering Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math activities and programs across our county. One of our 4-H clubs, the Down East club, that meets in the Carver’s Creek area has been growing and offering a Summer STEAM opportunity to the youth in their area for much longer. In July, the Tabernacle Believers Holiness Church, sponsor of this 4-H club, hosted their third annual 4-H Robotics day camp program for youth ages 5 to 18. More than 20 youth participated in the two day workshops to learn to build and program robots, and almost as many volunteers helped in various ways to make sure that the program is a continued success.
Luella Wills, the 4-H club leader, requests this particular 4-H workshop for their community each year, so that more youth can experience 4-H and attend a technology workshop that would be exciting and innovative in their home community instead of having to travel elsewhere. With financial support and a willingness to host from the Tabernacle Believers Holiness Church, Mrs. Wills and the Bladen County 4-H agent, Stacie Kinlaw have coordinated and planned the two-day event for the last three year.
The church multipurpose room was converted into a STEM lab on July 17 and 18, 2018 complete with laptops and multiple Wonder Kids and Lego Robotics Kits on loan from NC A&T State University’s Cooperative Extension Program. In the mornings, elementary aged participants played and learned with the Wonder Kids Dash and Dot Robots; while in the afternoon, older participants experimented with the newer and more advanced version the Lego Mindstorms EV-3. Curriculum was facilitated by the 4-H agent, Stacie Kinlaw; but in all honestly this is a program that the children truly learn by doing. The projects required that the kids apply problem solving skills to computer programs to help their robots be successful. Both groups learned the beginnings of coding to help instruct their creations to accomplish a goal.
The adults that supported and volunteered for the project were just as impressed as the younger participants. Church Elder Berline Graham, Associate Pastor is always excited when 4-H brings the robots to their church “It was wonderful to see these young people so engaged and excited to learn about this new technology. We want to thank the county 4-H program and all of the church members, parents, and community volunteers who helped make this event possible.”
The Down East 4-H club is a chartered 4-H club that meets at the Tabernacle Believers Holiness Church usually on the fourth Sunday of each month. Local funds and collaborative support for 4-H STEAM programs in Bladen County have come from the following organizations: United Way of Bladen County, NC A&T State University – Innovative Community Grant, Smithfield Hog Production, and most recently Kuraray America, Inc. The 4-H program is the youth education program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, based at North Carolina State and North Carolina A&T State universities. More than 239,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 19 participate in North Carolina 4-H activities each year with the help of 21,700 adult and youth volunteers. If you would like more information about 4-H activities, programs, and clubs in Bladen County, please contact the local NC Cooperative Extension office at910-862-4591 or Stacie_kinlaw@ncsu.edu.