AUBURN, Alabama — Alabama 4-H recently won the National Interactive 4-H Educational Website Award with its 4-Hi website. The Alabama team was recognized at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Alabama Team Members
Members of the Alabama Extension team included Dr. Molly Gregg, 4-H Program Leader; Kimberly Graham, 4-H communications specialist; Bruce Dupree, Extension creative services manager; Aimee Lewis, editor and Brynne McCormick, 4-H youth member and voice actor for the project.
According to Dr. Gregg, Alabama 4-H wanted to create a full-scale science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM curriculum for youth ages 9-18. The creative team at Alabama Extension brought the content to life.
“The mandate was to reduce print costs and also to increase innovation in program delivery. The result was 4-Hinnovators, a completely digital four-course curriculum enhanced with multimedia pieces. Moreover, it makes program planning and teaching easy for educators and engaging for youth audiences,” she said
4-Hi Website Promotes the Program and Serves as a Portal
A website promoting the program serves as a portal for the online courses. It also provides a source of information for new and upcoming products. When designing the website graphics, the objective was to establish a cohesive look to the brand using color, illustration as well as animation to attract both educators and youth audiences. The creation of a focused and visual portal for the promotion of 4-Hinnovators, helped Extension funnel the public to a single information source that both educates and serves as a portal to the online courses.
Gregg said the key audience for the 4-Hi website is science educators and 4-H agents who implement the curriculum with youth in middle school. According to Teach for America, just 1 in 4 fourth graders from low-income backgrounds is proficient in math and just 1 in 6 is proficient in science.
By 2018, eight million STEM jobs will be available in the United States, but the vast majority of U.S. students will be unprepared to fill them. The 4-Hi website provides educators with resources to turn around those numbers.
The current population of Alabama youth below age 18 is 1,103,496. Alabama had more than 144,000 youth participants in 2015-2016 with 69,797 male and 75,093 female participants. Of those participants, 10,651 were Hispanic or Latino; 43,029 were African American and 94,181 were white.
Program in 11 States
Through the website and promotional efforts, 4-Hinnovators has expanded to 11 states, doubling the target goal of new state participation. More than 12,000 people have had direct contact with the program through these efforts.
The 4-Hinnovator curriculum has four separate courses cover a wide variety of science and engineering fields. A graphic novel approach is used to engage, entertain and of course, educate young people. Color is used to identify the program as a whole as well as each of the four courses. Gold is the brand standard, while red, blue, green and purple designate individual courses.
In addition, the characters are relatable science heroes for youth audiences. They introduce the various forms of science, technology, engineering and math featured in the curriculum, while the D.I.L.A. team leader character guides educators as they navigate the 4-Hi curriculum.
Schools interested in the 4-Hinnovator curriculum can contact the Alabama Cooperative Extension 4-H Foundation agent in their county.