4-H Video and Communications Project increases life-skills and content knowledge

Michigan 4-H Video and Communications Project helps youth document science and solutions through place- and community-based education.

Education is the focus of all 4-H science projects, with the goals of increasing important life-skills as well as content knowledge. One great example of this is Michigan’s new 4-H Video and Communications Project. This new project took place over six weeks at the Cheboygan Middle School this past spring.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s role was to help recruit volunteers and to help train the teen leaders/students who led the project. Overall, twenty-five youth leaders participated in the project through Mrs. Paull’s Alternative Energy science class. Patrick McGinnis, of McGinnis Video Productions, taught students how to create the video. Extension staff worked with Mrs. Paull and students of her alternative energy science class to train teen leaders to teach their peers more about wind energy.

Aside from what students learned about the technology of video editing and creation, they learned valuable life-skills. According to a pre/post-test evaluation of the 4-H Video and Communications Project (n=25), students learned more about leadership (nine percent increase), problem solving/critical thinking (18 percent increase), teamwork (four percent increase) and ethical decision making (9 percent increase).

Additionally, youth reported increased confidence in their ability to communicate, report and present findings, engage in public speaking and incorporate digital technology (such as photography and video) into their personal tool kits. At the same time, post-test results indicated a 17 percent increase in students’ comfort in relationship to sharing their thoughts and feelings in a public speech or talk.

Another impressive post-test finding is a 40 percent increase in the number of youth who expressed confidence in their ability to share their ideas through video; with eighteen percent indicating an increase in their comfort with using technology to help them express ideas.

Additional life-skill development was indicated through important increases in student’s acceptance and welcoming of new ideas, people, and the global community. According to post-test results, there was a nine percent increase in students who indicated that they can meet new people and form friendships, and a 17 percent increase in students who indicated that they respect others who may be different from themselves. These values/life-skills are important now and in the future – especially with regards to attracting and keeping skilled (knowledge) workers in Michigan’s New Economy. According to the Michigan Land Policy Institute (2011), welcoming innovation and new ideas will be crucial to moving Michigan forward in the new economy. Youth can lead the way.

The National 4-H Council has the goal of increasing science literacy across the nation (one million 4-H youth involved in science by 2013). In line with this, students were taught more about potential science, engineering and technology careers through the 4-H Video and Communication Project.

Upon completion of the project, twice as many students indicated that they are able to name focuses of study in the field of environmental sciences, including at least five careers in the field of environmental sciences. Similarly, the number of youth who indicated that they can name at least five jobs in which communication skills are important increased by nine percent.

Students also learned more content knowledge through the 4-H Video and Communications Project, including the technology of photography and computer video editing; as well as about the science and engineering surrounding alternative energy. Upon post-test, students indicated important increases in science content knowledge, including a 9 percent increase in their ability to use scientific thinking and exploration of natural and man-made environments.

Cheboygan Middle School students are currently planning the presentation of their video project, and are looking forward to sharing what they have learned along the way through this project.

This unique approach to learning was achieved through the support of Michigan State University Extension Participation Fee Grants, Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) network partnership, Wal-Mart: Youth Voice Youth Choice grant, and Jump Into Food and Fitness grants; as well as educational resources, expertise and encouragement from community and school partners.

The 4-H Video and Communications Project is expected to provide a vehicle for programming across MSU Extension institutes, curriculum, communities and county boundaries; and will allow 4-H youth to weigh in on relevant community assets, issues, challenges and solutions.

Additional information regarding Michigan 4-H Science can be accessed online.

For more information on getting involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),MSU Extension educator, at 231-627-8815.

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