Tag Archives: technology

N:15 ‒ ANR Communication creates news in 15 seconds

In today’s fast-paced and constantly connected world of smartphones, social media and more, we have to stay competitive if we want to attract people to our material as they scroll over multiple news items a day. Michigan State University Extension is well known throughout the state in the agriculture community and among people in the older population, who are more likely to rely on traditional news delivery. But how can we make sure that we’re catching the eye of the younger generation who want information now?

Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications is working to create 15-second videos that will offer a quick-pitch delivery of relevant news. These videos could work either as an introduction, to entice viewers to watch a longer video or to read an article, or as a full explanation of a concept, such as in “How to Convert Grams of Sugar into Teaspoons.

Kraig Ehm and Katie Gervasi, who lead the project, have created a few short videos based on content they already have. They’ve found that they can film an entire recipe in 15 seconds, as they did on this video:

The possibilities are endless!

Check out the ANR N:15 YouTube Channel to see the videos created so far, and stay tuned for more to come!

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Building for the Future

Most of you are already familiar with STEM, the acronym referring to “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.” Many of our 4-H leaders have been busy trying to engage young people across Michigan in exciting programs that encourage STEM learning. Elaine McKee, 4-H program coordinator in Berrien County, is one of them.

This summer, with the help of a $1,500 grant from the Molly Schuler Foundation and a $2,500 Heart of Cook award, McKee is working to bring LEGO Robotics to her county in a way that young people will enjoy. LEGO Robotics is a popular set of LEGO kits that enable individuals to learn the basics of engineering and computer programming by building small-scale robots. McKee ran a pilot program using LEGO Robotics at Summer My Way camp at Ballard Elementary School, and the young people who were involved had a wonderful time.

Using LEGO Robotics and the same program McKee taught at the summer camp, the grade-level students in Berrien County 4-H will have an opportunity to design robots that can perform simple tasks. This type of project prepares the young people for robotics clubs in high school and teaches them the foundation of skills to go into a STEM field as a career when they are finished with school.

Great job, Elaine!

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Wayne County 4-H receives STEM grant

Some Wayne County middle schoolers will be having fun this summer and acquiring important STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills at the same time thanks to a grant from Cognizant’s Making the Future After-school and Summer Program. The program seeks to inspire young learners to pursue STEM disciplines by creating fun and hands-on learning experiences. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development will use the $6,000 grant in the summer of 2014 to expand the TechXcite program, an after-school engineering curriculum developed by National 4-H and Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering.

Through the program, approximately 100 young people will participate in learning modules that focus on transportation, bio-medical technology, green building and solar energy. They’ll create exciting projects such as a bionic arm, a solar oven, a solar-powered car and rain barrels.

Extension educator Laurie Rivetto leads the Wayne County program and Extension 4-H program coordinator Kristy Oosterhouse is the go-to person for the overall 4-H TEchXcite program.

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Extension staff member wins national technology award

Many of our Michigan State University Extension staff members are busy earning advanced degrees while continuing to work full-time for our organization. MSU Extension 4-H associate program leader Molly Frendo has not only been pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology (EPET) at the MSU College of Education, she has also won a national award while balancing both worlds. Molly has been selected to receive the National University Technology Network (NUTN) 2013 Student Recognition Award.

NUTN is a consortium of higher education institutions that provides a networking and professional development arena for the advancement of teaching and learning. The NUTN Student Recognition Award recognizes students whose use of distance learning has been both exemplary and impactful in providing opportunities for personal and professional advancement. Molly received the award because of her use of technology in contributing to her work and in advancing her own goals personally.

MSU faculty members Punya Mishra and Leigh Graves Wolf nominated Molly for the award, which she’ll receive Sept. 17 in Albuquerque, N.M., at Network 2013, the NUTN annual conference.

Molly has been at the forefront of advancing technology in Extension, lending her expertise in the area of volunteer management and administration.

She helped create a virtual community of AmeriCorps volunteers through Moodle. She’s led and co-led a variety of workshops on technology on topics such as creating effective and engaging webinars, facilitating effective conference calls and using social networking in a professional manner. More recently, the topics have included using virtual communities to support volunteer retention and using technology to build capacity in volunteer administration. Additionally, she was the closing keynote speaker for the 2013 National Extension Conference on Volunteerism, where the title of her speech was “Finding your Sense of Adventure: Technology and the 21st Century Volunteer.”

In addition, she used MSUE-developed curriculum to teach Grand Valley State University undergraduate social work students about setting appropriate boundaries on- and offline. She was a project manager for the recently published 4-H mentoring curriculum Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit. She also helped launch 4-H Tech Wizards in Michigan.

Active in eXtension, she’s co-facilitated online professional development on both the Learn and Campus sides of the Internet-based collaborative environment. She co-leads the eXtension Community of Practice focused on volunteer administration. She serves on the 2014 National eXtension conference committee, the MSUE I-Team (eXtension Institutional Team) committee and the I-Team website committee. She received an I-Team award last year at Fall Extension Conference for use of technology in programming.

Molly said, “My work here in Extension never was really meant to focus on technology (which is kind of the funny thing!), but I got started in the area of technology through running the AmeriCorps program and using Moodle to do an online community there. It was so successful that we thought about the ways that it could be helpful in other 4-H volunteer environments. In doing this work, we’ve been able to envision the role that technology can and should play on a wider level within the Cooperative Extension Service. There’s a lot of potential for us to innovate how we serve the public and partner together across the country – but the skill set to do that effectively is a new one and we’re working on equipping everyone to do it well. I’ve really enjoyed my work in this area; it’s what prompted me to begin my Ph.D. in this area to be more prepared to serve Extension on a broad level.”

Congratulations, Molly! And thanks for sharing your innovative spirit with MSUE!

Read more here: http://edwp.educ.msu.edu/news/2013/phd-student-wins-national-recognition/

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4-H Discovery Camp inspires interest in science careers

In the United States, a small percentage of U.S. college graduates earn science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees. However, an increased demand exists for professionals in these fields. Michigan 4-H Youth Development strives to encourage interest in STEM.

4-H Discovery Camp is just one of the ways they’ve succeeded. The camp, which took place June 24‒28, gives young people an opportunity to become acquainted with the natural resources and agriculture industry in Michigan as both relate to current issues and technologies affecting energy and the environment.

The five-day exploration experience’s home base is Michigan State University where attendees stayed in dorms and experienced campus life.

The MSU campus offered a wealth of experiences for the kids who ranged in age from 13 to 19.

Attendees toured campus labs to see the cutting-edge research revolving around energy for the future. They explored the MSU Recycling facilities to learn about the impact recycling has on energy and the environment.

Participants also took part in their own “Bio Blast” bioenergy experiments at MSU’s Shaw Hall.

Attendees of 4-H Discovery Camp took part in a Bio Blast experiment on June 24, 2013, at Michigan State University’s Shaw Hall in East Lansing, Mich.

Attendees of 4-H Discovery Camp took part in a Bio Blast experiment on June 24, 2013, at Michigan State University’s Shaw Hall in East Lansing, Mich. The experiment required participants to mix warm tap water, sugar and yeast in a water bottle. In this photo, two boys place a balloon over the top of the water bottle. Photo Credit: Mariah Montenegro, ANR Communications

At MSU’s Farrall Agriculture Engineering Hall, they had the opportunity to make biodiesel from agriculture products, and compare and calculate energy density. They even took a sample of it home at the close of camp. Campers visited MSU’s woody biomass plantation where Paul Bloese, an MSU forestry research assistant, taught them how wood products are used for energy. They visited the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center to learn about anaerobic digestion research and impacts on energy. Then back at Farrall Hall, they visited with Dr. Christopher Saffron, assistant professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, who spoke about his ongoing research in bioenergy.

However, attendees didn’t restrict their scientific exploration to East Lansing. They had the opportunity to visit the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station where they collected data at research plots. At the Carbon Green BioEnergy ethanol plant, they toured the facilities, met the staff and discussed energy use and impacts. Other visits included the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, the Dow/Cobblestone Builders Net Zero House, the Midland Center for the Arts and the Gratiot County Wind Farm.

Attendees of 4-H Discovery Camp took part in a Bio Blast experiment on June 24, 2013, at Michigan State University’s Shaw Hall in East Lansing, Mich.

Attendees of 4-H Discovery Camp took part in a Bio Blast experiment on June 24, 2013, at Michigan State University’s Shaw Hall in East Lansing, Mich. The experiment required participants to mix warm tap water, sugar and yeast in a water bottle. In this photo, the girls complete the final step of the experiment: to measure the circumference of the balloon by wrapping a string around it and reading the length on the measuring tape. Photo Credit: Mariah Montenegro, ANR Communications

Throughout the week, campers took part in a solar car engineering challenge in which they designed, built and raced their own solar cars.

This is the fourth year 4-H has offered the camp. Though it was canceled the second year, due to low enrollment, word has gotten out. This year, more than 75 youth applied for the camp that has the capacity to admit 45 campers.

In a survey of last year’s attendees, more than 90 percent of respondents said that they are more likely to pursue a degree or career in a bioenergy-related field following the completion of 4-H Discovery Camp. It looks like the camp puts kids on the path to a science-related future.

Read more here.

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Use helpful tools from ANR Communications to create documents quickly and easily

You may have an event or program you want to promote and you’re ready to let the public know about it. Maybe you’re working on a brochure or flier and realize you need a Michigan State University Extension wordmark to place on the document. Do you have the latest wordmark? Do you know where to start in laying out a document using Microsoft Publisher? Do you have time to create a good layout?

To save time and prevent hassle, visit the Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications Web site at anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/msue_graphics. This Web page contains a wealth of tools to help you create an attractive document. On this page, find MSU Extension wordmarks in various formats with simple, easy-to-understand instructions on how to use them.

You’ll also find templates to create professional-looking MSUE PowerPoints and certificates. Just add your information to the template. It’s as easy as that.

On this same Web page, click on the link to SharePoint to download event flier, program flier, fact sheet and brochure templates. Why spend time designing a document when you can load your information and photos into these templates and you’re ready to go?

In addition, these templates make it easy for you to create items consistent with the look and branding of other MSU and MSUE items.

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4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp recognized as one of top 4-H science programs, report on study released

We knew all along that Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp is a great pre-college program for kids to learn through outdoor hands-on experiences and have fun in the process. Others have noticed as well. In 2008, the annual seven-day camp held on the shores of Lake Huron in Presque Isle, Michigan, was named as a 4-H Program of Distinction. In 2009, it won the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award.

 In 2011, it was selected out of 70 nominations of promising science programs through a structured process of nominations and vetting as one of eight top science programs in a National 4-H science program in-depth case study. The study was part of the 4-H Youth Development Program’s National Science Initiative evaluation funded by the Noyce Foundation through a grant to National 4-H Council.

A new report was recently released on the case study. “Priming the Pipeline: Lessons from Promising 4-H Science Programs,” written by Derek Riley and Alisha Butler from Policy Studies Associates, features the camp and the seven other selected science programs. It covers practices in the following areas: youth outreach and recruitment, staff and science volunteers, professional development, science curricula and pedagogy, youth development and attitudes toward science, partner organizations and resource support, program evaluation, and program sustainability and scale-up.

Senior program leader Judy Ratkos serves as camp administrator and co-directs the camp with 4-H volunteer Bob Patterson.

Judy said, “It is truly an honor for the staff and volunteers involved in 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp to have it recognized as one of the top 4-H science programs in the nation. To have it held up as a model for other youth science programs – both within and outside of 4-H – creates awareness that MSU Extension can help lead the way in increasing science literacy among Michigan young people and increase the number of youth pursuing postsecondary education and careers in science.

“The lessons shared in this newly released report should be helpful to other 4-H science programs striving to be ‘SET Ready.’ A SET Ready 4-H experience is a program that is framed in science, engineering and technology concepts based on SET standards and intentionally targets the development of SET abilities and the outcomes articulated by the 4-H SET Logic Model,” Judy said.

Congratulations to Judy and her team! They inspire the rest of us to make the best even better.

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