The Daily Mash-Up

Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper
Youth design ‘dream park’ during national 4-H experiment

More than 600 Pierce County youth will join millions of students across the country during the week of Oct. 7 to participate in the 4-H Maps & Apps experiment.

Youth become community planners, working in teams and using geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping techniques to plan and design a park. Each member designs certain features and draws it on a sheet protector. This simulates GIS technology as they stack the clear layers of their maps to create their park.

Students brainstorm what they’d like in their “dream” park. The most common answer is, of course, a playground. Some other ideas are a picnic area, field, wading pool, walking paths, basketball court, amphitheater, flower garden, and a horseshoe pit. Students work in teams to decide on their favorite park features and problem solve how to map out their 8-acre park. One classroom will use these skills to plan and design new garden beds at their school.

"In this year’s experiment, young people experience first-hand how GIS and mapping are used to solve real-world problems," said Christina Murray, Washington State University Pierce County Extension 4-H Coordinator. “It gives them a taste of how geography impacts our lives and communities.”

Participating in the experiment helps students discover new interests and career options. GIS/GPS mapping has applications in numerous fields – from healthcare, national defense and environmental science to agriculture, aeronautics and city planning. In fact, GIS/GPS is ranked among the fastest growing occupational fields in the nation. Because the uses for geospatial technology are so widespread and diverse, the market is growing at an annual rate of almost 35 percent.

"Now entering its sixth year, 4-H National Youth Science Day will again bring young people face-to-face with the challenges of today’s global economy," said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO. "America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. However, with high-quality positive youth development programs like 4-H National Youth Science Day, youth are introduced to highly relevant concepts and solutions that will ensure their contributions to their communities today, and their success as global leaders tomorrow."

WSU Pierce County 4-H partners with the following organizations to advance science exploration with local youth through participation in the science experiment: YMCA of Pierce County, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Tacoma Nature Center, Summit and Fife Libraries, Daffodil Elementary, Cascade Christian Schools, Northeast Tacoma Elementary, Midland Elementary, Naches Trails, Wildwood Park Elementary, St. Nick’s Catholic School, Lochburn Middle School, and Stadium High School.