ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s 4-H program has received a $14,825 grant from N.C. A&T University to help underserved children engineer innovative solutions to real-world problems.
The money comes through the university’s Cooperative Extension Service to the local Extension office, which will manage seven one-week summer camps for children ages 10 to 13. Campers may attend a selection or all of the sessions, as their family schedules permit.
“(The camps will) be exposing kids … to things they might not get locally,” by taking them on fields trips, said Alyson Hoffman, who wrote the grant application. Or, the sessions will show campers what exists locally that they didn’t know about.
Camp instructors will teach chemistry — disguised as cooking and baking — as well as beekeeping and food science, Hoffman said Thursday. Because the camp will cover “STEAM” topics — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — and not just “STEM,” children also will learn about such things as color and contrast.
“Getting these kids to keep up with their reading and math skills over the summer” is part of the equation, Hoffman said — and they’ll be doing it painlessly, through field trips and hands-on activities.
“(In 4-H) we like to see it, we like to do it, and we like to see them go teach someone else,” Hoffman said.
She has yet to work out all of the details, but Hoffman expects to partner with Discovery Place Kids so campers may use some of the resources the museum has to create what is called “maker space” — room to discover potential, innovative solutions to scientific and other problems.
Claudette Smith, associate administrator for the Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, waxed enthusiastic about the 4-H program Thursday.
“When this was introduced (to us in a grant application), we thought, ‘This is a great idea for a county like this,’” Smith said.
Richmond County occupies the lowest tier in the state economically. Recent studies on child welfare also have shown than about two-thirds of children in the county live at or near poverty, a situation that can make it difficult to pursue educational experiences.
Camp sessions will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for seven weeks. Details will be announced soon. (Preliminary information is available for those who call 910-997-8255 or email [email protected])
Richmond County’s 4-H also will offer robotics instruction during its 4-H Summer Adventures Program at Millstone 4-H Camp.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]