Rutherford and Union youth to design parks with GIS and GPS technology on Oct. 9

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – What would make our towns a better place to live? Well, a pretty park might be nice. But before you can build a park, someone has to design it – and some talented and tech-savvy Tennessee 4-H’ers might be able to help.

On Oct. 9, Tennessee 4-H youth will join millions of young people across the nation to become scientists for a day during the sixth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). 4-Her’s from Rutherford and Union counties will take part.

The youngsters will be part of “4-H Maps & Apps!” Project designed by Colorado State University Extension. The activity will turn kids into geospatial thinkers as they design and map their ideal park, use geographic information system (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) technology to address community issues, such as land use, and contribute data to the U.S. Geological Survey. The designs are hypothetical exercises, but the data will be saved in case it could be used in the future.

Tennessee 4-H’ers will be conducting the project in two locations – Knoxville and Murfreesboro. Union County 4-H youth will be coming to the UT Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville to participate. The event will be at 2 p.m. (EDT) in Room 118 of the Plant Biotech Building.

The event in Murfreesboro will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. (CDT) at the Franklin Heights Family Learning Center, 607 Bridge Ave., Murfreesboro.

“This event will feature approximately 15 fourth through eighth grade youth,” says Walter Dirl, Tennessee State University Extension in Rutherford County. “For many of them, it will be their first experience in GIS and 4-H. After working on the experiment, they will take part in a fun geocaching adventure – which is a treasure hunt using GPS technology.”

“This is a great learning opportunity,” says Daniel Sarver, UT Extension youth specialist with Tennessee 4-H. UT Extension oversees the state’s 4-H program. “Any time they use GIS technology, they’re learning. What we’re trying to do is have kids understand this could be a potential career,” Sarver says.

This project is part of the 4-H campaign “One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas” – with a bold goal to engage one million new young people in science. A secondary goal is to combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and occupations. More than five million young people currently participate in science, engineering, technology and applied math programming through 4-H.

A recent Tufts University study showed the positive impact 4-H science programs have for youth. The study found that, when compared to other youth, youngsters involved in 4-H are:

* Two times more likely to get better grades.
* Two times more likely to plan on attending college.
Three times more likely to participate in science, engineering and computer technology programs.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.



Shannon Perrin, Union County 4-H agent, 865-992-8038

Walter Dirl, Rutherford County 4-H agent, 731-780-0586