Extension News

4-H to Offer IT-Adventures Clubs

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AMES, Iowa--Iowa 4-H will offer high school-age students a chance to have fun while pursuing IT adventures during the 2007-2008 program year.  The new program, known as IT-Adventures, allows students to form clubs through high schools or county offices of Iowa State University Extension.

“This is a great way to connect our youth to possible careers and also open young minds to what is occurring locally with IT,” said Jay Staker, program coordinator for E-SET (Extension to Science, Engineering and Technology). No previous experience or knowledge of the subject is required for membership.

Through membership in IT clubs, youth will gain access to learning materials from ISU and be able to experiment with provided equipment in an inquiry-based learning environment, according to Doug Jacobson, a member of the ISU Advisory Committee for IT-Adventures.

Members can compete in the IT-Olympics April 25-26, 2008, in Hilton Coliseum on the ISU campus, Jacobson said. Club members must choose from either a cyber defense competition, game design contest or robotics challenge. Nearly 700 students representing 75 high schools and clubs are anticipated to attend the event.

IT clubs can participate in all three content areas or focus on one, Staker said. The first step in starting a club is to find an advisor or organizational leader -- someone who may not have IT knowledge but who is passionate about student learning. Once the club is formed and registered at www.it-adventures.org, IT-Adventures will help pair the club with a local IT professional to serve as a mentor.

Anyone who agrees to be an IT-Club advisor or leader for the year qualifies to earn three college credits in an ISU education course, according to Jacobson.

The cyber defense portion of the program has been piloted for two years and the competition component was implemented in 10 high schools in 2006 and 16 high schools in 2007, Jacobson said. 

“I see this as a youth development, economic development and communities project,” Staker said. “Its components tie in closely with the 4-H emphasis on hands-on learning, community service, leadership and communication.”

IT-Adventures is part of a response to the national drop in enrollments in science and technology. “We believe opportunities can be created in high schools to foster interest in IT with methods that are fun, engaging and exciting,” Jacobson said. “Contrary to reports of large IT companies moving operations to off-shore countries, there is an expanding need for creative thinkers with high adaptability in the IT profession right here in the United States.”

Current sponsors include the FBL Financial Group, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc., Iowa Department of Economic Development, Information Assurance Center, Internet-Scale Event and Attack Generation Environment (ISEAGE) and Technology Association of Iowa.


Contacts :
Jay Staker, ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET), (515) 294-8417, jstaker@iastate.edu
Doug Jacobson, ISU Advisory Committee for IT-Adventures, (515) 294-8307, dougj@iastate.edu
Carol Ouverson, ISU Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9640, couverso@iastate.edu