“I like Tech Wizards, because we learn new stuff every day and I love technology,” said Brycen Sherman, a second-year member of the club. Brycen demonstrated how low-density polyethylene pellets (LDPE) can be melted down in a desktop plastic injection molder to make golf tees.

Manufacturing FUNdamentals in Shelby County

By Sally A. McClaskey, Program Manager, Education & Marketing, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Science is one of three National 4-H Council mission mandates. The hands-on learning that is at the heart of 4-H helps youth better understand how to apply science to what they do every day.

In Shelby County, the Tech Wizards 4-H Club members are learning that lesson by discovering the science and technology in the manufacturing that takes place every day in their county.

Since January, youth in the Hardin-Houston School District have been learning about manufacturing through the new 4-H Manufacturing FUNdamentals program during twice-monthly club meetings.

The in-school initiative is the idea of Cassie Dietrich, 4-H educator in Shelby County. “The goal is for students to think about product development technology and how it impacts them every day,” said Dietrich. “All the activities are STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math) and tied to applied technology in local anufacturing fields.”

Dietrich wants her 4-H’ers to look at the products they use every day and understand how they are made. “And it’s just as important for them to know who the people are who made them.”

As the Tech Wizards explored hydraulics, electrical circuits, pneumatics robotics and plastic molding, they learned from area experts. With Shelby County being number one per capita in Ohio for manufacturing jobs, engineers and production associates from Emerson Climate Technologies and Stolle Machinery served as great role-models in the classroom.

Connecting elementary youth to potential employers has been extremely valuable for both parties. “When kids can put faces to products, they start to have a new appreciation for not just the product, but also the career opportunity available in developing that product. They no longer just see a pop can. They see Drew from Stolle Machinery who builds presses that makes pop can tabs.”

The success of the program led to an invitation from the Ohio School Boards Association to participate in their annual conference last month. The Tech Wizards travelled to the Columbus and focused their presentation on plastic technologies and hydraulics. They shared with booth visitors how science and technology come together to perform injection and blow molding processes that develop plastic pop bottles. They also demonstrated how hydraulics can be used to crush a variety of materials, including cans, cardboard tubes and plastic balls.

The program began in January with fifth grade students. Teachers selected students who they knew would benefit from the “learn by doing” philosophy of 4-H. When those students moved to sixth grade this fall, they continued the program, along with a new group of fifth graders.

The club has a great start on discovering their future career thanks to this 4-H program. “The club is learning that these skills apply directly to careers in technology right here in the area. Whether they go to college, trade school, or straight into the workforce, these kids have the world of opportunity at their reach in Shelby County” said Dietrich.

Financial support for the program is provided by the Ohio 4-H Foundation, Emerson Climate Technologies, Stolle Machinery and CBT Company. Other support provided by Advanced Composites and Plastipak. Ohio 4-H is a program of Ohio State University Extension, part of OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Resources.

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