An Innovative Method to Teach Physics to 4-H Students

  • P. K. Raju
  • Chetan S Sankar
  • John A Cook


The need to impart technological literacy to youth is vital for a state such as Alabama, since it has historically received relatively low levels of Federal research and development funding (EPSCOR). Thirty five counties in the state of Alabama have less than 10% of the general population with college degrees. As our society becomes more and more science and technology oriented, there is a need to motivate our youth to consider technical areas of study and to develop a better understanding of what the 21st century workplace will be like. A pilot study was conducted at a camp in Birmingham, AL, where instructional materials were presented using cartoon characters, connection to a realworld company problem, and a hands-on experiment. Twenty-four students from six counties in Alabama participated in the camp. Evaluation results show that the pilot study engaged the students in the learning process, brought together individuals and organizations from the informal and formal education communities, and benefited the 4-H students tremendously. These results lead us to conclude that the U.S. government and private organizations need to invest in development of innovative instructional materials so that young students could perform hands-on experiments, use information technologies to document the results of the experiments, and thereby connect science & math theories to real-world applications.