For some youth, the COVID-19 closure of their schools is a time to learn about technology and design tools that they can use to create digital projects.
New Mexico State University’s 4-H Youth Development department is offering daily video-conferencing sessions to 4-H members where they learn the basics of creating digital presentations, graphic design, digital illustration, sound design, animation, and game design.
“4-H is all about education and a large part of that is technology, and how the youth can utilize it with whatever project area they are working in,” said Mindy Turner, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 4-H youth specialist.
“Among the more than 200 different types of projects offered through 4-H clubs is a whole section on personal growth on how the youth are growing and expanding as people,” Turner said. “The technologies the youth are learning now are skills that they will need in different career areas in the future.”
The Technology and Design project is a collaboration of two NMSU Extension departments: 4-H Youth Development, and Innovative Media.
“The intent of the project is to provide meaningful ways for the kids to engage with technology,” said Barbara Chamberlin, NMSU professor with the Innovative Media Research and Extension department. “We hope that the kids will explore several different technologies and design ideas, and land on one, or two, or three, that they want to investigate further.”
Originally planned as monthly online sessions where youth could learn how to design, create and make things using digital tools, the project became 20 sessions, two offered each weekday for two weeks, after the COVID-19 outbreak.
The 4-H members could pick and choose the sessions they wanted to attend.
The daily meetings have some instruction and plenty of time for the youth to explore that sessions technology to see what they can do with the information. Each participant will develop a longer-term project that they will present at a Digital Expo later in the year.
“For some of our members who attended, their homework for while they are out of school included the creation of a project or presentation that they are to present to their classmates once classes resume,” Turner said. “One way the youth may use the project lessons is in their presentation designed on their computer.”
The youth are learning from digital experts in NMSU’s Innovative Media Research Department, whose careers are in game design, animation and illustration.
Leading the sessions are Amanda Armstrong, NMSU Learning Game Lab coordinator, on game design — rule redo and storyboarding; Matheus Cezarotto, post-graduate scholar, on graphic design; Pamela Martinez, NMSU assistant professor and Extension learning technology specialist, on social media; Philip McVann, artist and animator, on character design; Adrian Aguirre Martinez, artist and animator, on art styles and design; Evan Evans, artist and animator, on animation flipbooks; Amy Smith Muise, program manager and editor, Online Experts: Beware of Fake News; and Chamberlin on creating presentations.
“This is the first time we have done something like this,” Turner said. “We have had 30 youth participate in the first sessions, which is excellent for a starting point.”
More information about the program is available online at aces.nmsu.edu/4h/techanddesign.