Making the Best Better

Thomas jefferson quote: To invent all you need is a good imagination and a pile of junkIn 4-H we focus on ‘making the best better’ as it relates to helping youth make improvements in the world we live in.   We have been doing this for over 100 years, so this is not something that is new.   What is new in the past 10 years is a grassroots movement called “Making”.   Started in San Fransisco, the focus of this movement is to return to creating things and making things rather than just being consumers of things. Maker Festivals across the country bring people together to share the things that they have built. 4-H has taught youth to learn by doing through hands-on projects. but makers may not realize we exist in their communities.

Maker Festivals across the country bring people together to share the things that they have built. 4-H has taught youth to learn by doing through hands-on projects. They fit together but makers may not know about 4-H in their communities.two women using soldering irons So how can we as land-grant universities connect to makers and get them involved with our 4-H youth?

We could host maker festivals! Until recently, maker festivals have been in larger cities and not many in rural areas or the Midwest.  We recently received an eXtension innovation grant with the goal to change that.  See our Zen Statement about our project (below).

4-H Maker Festivals will be held in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky for rural youth to expand the Maker Movement and to showcase 4-H’s learning by doing.soldering iron

Not only will we be exposing makers to 4-H, but we help our youth connect to the world of making.   It is also a great opportunity to recruit some new 4-H volunteers and members.  The pictures in this post are from a recent field trip Ohio 4-H professionals took to a Makerspace called the ProtoBar in Dayton Ohio. They led us through a soldering workshop and we told them about 4-H.

What if Extension offices became places for hands-on workshops like these?  In Ohio that would create 88 new Makerspaces. Not only do we have the opportunity, but we have the capacity, to make extension offices a destination for creating and learning. Consider attending a local maker festival this summer or promote National Maker Week, June 16-22, 2017. Make the best better!

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