COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three years ago, Ohio State University Professor and 4-H STEM specialist Mark Light started to teach a program called Clovers Code, short for Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone.
“We want the youth to know that technology is a tool if we use it for the right reasons,” said Light.
One day at the William H. Adams Community Center in Columbus, Light was teaching an after-school class on music coding for 4-H youth in the second through sixth grades.
“Kids are creating their own songs and learning how to write songs., and through an iPad, they have access to all the instruments they could even possibly dream about,” said Light.
But the goal is much more than that.
“So we’re trying to shift youth from being content consumers—Netflix, TikTok, video games, to content creators. So using the technology to create the video games, to code the apps,” said Light.
Laila Covington-Powell is a 10-year-old student at KIPP Columbus, and said music coding is one of her favorite classes so far.
“First, I learned something I’ve never done before. Also, I like to sing. so it just kind of spoke to me,” said Covington-Powell.
Light said with the addition of Intel, these are exciting times to work in Ohio’s tech industry, especially for the 4-H youth who are learning new skills and charting their own path for the future.
“They don’t have to leave Ohio for those career technical type jobs that involve technology because over these youths’ lifetime, those jobs are going to be located right here in Ohio,” said Light.
Light, who studied engineering at Ohio Northern University and Ohio State University for his Ph.D., said he’s passionate about helping youth with STEM programming.
For Light, the best part is “that ah-ha moment when it becomes real for them, especially when they start teaching others. Then become peer teachers and by teaching someone else, it ingrains it even more.”
Clover’s Code is currently in 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
The programming is made possible by partnerships with the Ohio Department of Education, Apple and Google.