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4-H Makers

Maker Education

There has been a resurgence in the do-it-yourself (DIY) culture around the world, and it has found a home in Virginia 4-H!  “Making” is inherent to 4-H. Since its beginnings in 1902, 4-H has engaged youth to design something new or find unique solutions to current and relevant problems.  Sharing what they learn and make with a 21st century attitude and skill-set moves curious 4-Her’s toward inventive application in areas of interest. Virginia 4-H Maker Ed helps kids capitalize on thinking with the hands, creating with the imagination, and inventing with a purpose!

See a photo gallery of makers hard at work!

Virginia 4-H Maker Education engages youth in playful tinkering and problem solving as they create products and processes in fun, hands-on ways. Virginia 4-H has developed a broad strategy to reach youth and their families through 4-H Maker Education programs including in-school and after-school, Maker Camps, Maker Fairs/Festivals, Maker Spaces, Maker Trainings/Workshops, and Military Maker Partnerships. Key concepts and outcomes for 4-H Maker include increased knowledge, abilities and experience in using maker strategies and inventive thinking across all project/content areas. 

Virginia 4-H Maker Education Program also provides a platform for collaborative STEM education through the combined strengths of partnerships of Virginia Tech and Virginia State University to inspire and engage youth with exposure to STEM-based application of Maker Ed.

Local 4-H maker programs across Virginia play a part in developing innovative sustainable programs that reinforce creativity, community engagement and even address formal education standards. 4-H Maker facilitators engage youth on a personal and educational level while supporting formal, informal, and non-formal educators from across discipline areas to create engaging and innovative learning models for youth. Through 4-H Maker projects, youth have opportunities to develop individual portfolios and share their experiences with others in their local community.

Professional Development

In Virginia, 4-H has provided professional development trainings on maker education and design-based learning for 4-H agents, 4-H Educational Center personnel, 4-H staff and volunteers. Professional training in facilitation skills to integrate maker and invention education within current programming is available to 4-H agents and volunteers through district and statewide trainings A “train the trainer” approach is used to integrate positive youth development, including experiential learning with emphasis on processing and debriefing and an introduction to inquiry. 4-H agents receive knowledge and skills to train volunteers and partners, provide resources, and coach maker education learning.

Virginia 4-H Makers can support the growing maker education movement through establishing community partnerships, coordinating current community efforts, and developing local maker programs. 4-H maker programs create a safe, caring and empowering environment for creative expression and exploration. Youth have a sense of belonging and empowerment while developing life-long skills and friendships and creating for their future.

Growing 4-H Science, Richmond City Urban 4-H Program

Growing 4-H Science in Richmond City provides an on-the-ground application of experiential and inquiry-based environmental science, inventive thinking, and healthy living. Growing 4-H Science provides a model for collaborative education, bringing together leaders, youth and partners to provide youth opportunities to learn, change, and make a difference in their community niches across Richmond City. It inspires minority youth, especially underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, to benefit from exposure and application of Maker Education, STEM education and careers.

4-H Educational Centers

There are six 4-H Educational Centers located across Virginia. Each one serves a particular geographic region for 4-H camping experiences and also provides opportunities for year-round learning.  4-H Educational Centers are dedicated to the development of youth and adult volunteers through innovative 4-H camping, content skills and leadership training. Maker activities and experiential learning have been integrated into the programs and camps available for youth.

Fall 2015

Culpeper County 4-H Maker Festival

  • The Culpeper County Library and 4-H will be partnering to host a maker festival this fall.
  • Dates TBD


National Youth Maker Summit

  • Nov. 6-9, 2015
  • This summit is open to any high school student in grades 9-12 as of September 2015


3rd Annual Prince William County 4-H Sponsored Youth Lounge at the 41st Manassas Hamfest and Maker Technology Show

  • Sunday, June 14, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Makers demos including 3D printing and workshops on radio technology.   Prince William County Fairgrounds, 4-H Children’s Barn, 10624 Dumfries Rd, Manassas, VA 20112

4-H STEM Learning Institute - Growing 4-H Science, Richmond, VA

  • Students learn science through the design and creation of physical prototypes.


Bay Area Maker Faire, San Francisco, CA

  • Makers from Growing 4-H Science in Richmond and ICAT in Blacksburg traveled to world's largest Maker Faire in San Francisco to meet with maker educators, innovators, and tinkerers.  


Hanover Arts and Science Festival, Hanover VA

  • More than 300 youth and their families participated in hands-on tinkering activities and maker workshops. The event showcases youth activities across fields of science and art for students from all the county schools.


National AfterSchool Association Convention, Washington D.C.

  • Growing 4-H Science and Operation: Military Kids partner to provide a workshop on “Introduction to Maker Education” attended by program leaders from across the country as well as the executive director of Maker Ed.


Powhatan County Maker Festival , Powhatan, VA

  • Powhatan County Library and the Powhatan County 4-H extension agent, Cathy Howland, hosted a 4-H Maker Festival on Feb. 21, attracting more than 600 visitors Local organizations, schools, and government agencies were active participants and supporters of the maker festival. Adults and youth of all ages were able to experience 3-D printing, robotics, and woodworking as well as build towers, windmills, and roller coasters.  

4-H Military Maker Festival, Chesterfield County, VA

  • The 4-H Military Maker Festival held at the Defense Supply Center on Feb. 7 introduced 4-H Maker to youth and their families from all branches of the military. The Lott Convention Center hosted the comprehensive maker festival featuring some of the best examples of 4-H experiential learning activities. 4-H youth volunteers were responsible for facilitating these hands-on activities with festival participants.


Agency 229 Annual Report


Northern Virginia 4-H Maker Festival,  Loudon County, VA

  • The Loudon County Fairgrounds hosted this 4-H Maker Festival featuring a day full of creativity, engineering, and resourcefulness. Activities included natural dyes, play dough circuits, LED paintbrushes, robots, rockets, and more.

State Fair of Virginia, Doswell, VA

  • 4-H youth volunteered to facilitate hands-on maker activities on VCE Day at the State Fair of Virginia. Families were exposed to Virginia Cooperative Extension programs through exhibits, demonstrations 


Fort Belvoir Military Maker Festival

  • The Military Maker Festival took place on Aug. 9 at the Reserves Center at Fort Belvoir. Children and families of the military participated in hands-on maker activities.

Pamunkey Regional Library Maker Festival

  • Hundreds of youth and their families participated in this experiential faire focused on STEM activities and tinkering.


ICAT Maker Camp, Blacksburg, VA

  • Campers used up cycled materials, computer programs, electronic sensors, and microprocessors to design and build musical instruments.


Article: Dr. Polys invited to White House's Maker Faire!

  • Nicholas Polys was invited to the White House Maker Faire in summer 2014. Polys presented his research on the NIH 3-D Print Exchange.


Hanover Arts and Science Festival, Hanover VA

  • A Hanover STEM and Arts Makerspace was held at the Festival of the Arts and Sciences for Hanover County Public Schools.  Adult visitors to the Makerspace were able to see examples of over two dozen maker projects and kits used in maker programs and learn more about 4-H Maker programs in Hanover County Schools. More than 150 young makers took part in workshops and other activities at the makerspace during the festival.


Article: 4-H Maker Movement in Hanover

  • Virginia Extension Success story on the 4-H Maker programs in Hanover County.


Science Camp, Jamestown 4-H Education Center

  • Youth at this science camp participated in a day long maker workshop learning beginning electronics and building circuits to create a remote controlled rover vehicle.

Article:  Maker Movement and Vriginia 4-H

  • Reflections on the Maker Movement across America and the future of Maker Education in Virginia.


New York World Maker Faire

  • Hanover 4-H Makers from the Summer STEM Learning Institute were invited by Cognizant to "Make The Future" by leading a maker workshop at the World Maker Faire Young Maker Pavilion. Hanover's Young Makers assisted Faire visitors in making a solar powered robot. 

Article: We Had a “Maker Festival” and So Can You!

  • Central Rappahannock Regional Library held a Maker Festival open to the community. This article details how the event was organized and the details leading up to festival.

Hanover 4-H Maker Afterschool Programs

  • Weekly 4-H Maker programs were introduced at 4-H afterschool programs at Henry Clay Elementary and Mechanicsville Elementary Schools.


ICAT Maker Camp, Blacksburg, VA

  • Campers engaged in fabrication, prototyping, and programming to design and build original musical instruments.


Summer STEM Enrichment Program — The Georgetown School

  • Hanover County students in the Summer STEM Enrichment Programs at The Georgetown School reinforce classroom learning with hands-on projects making solar, electric, and mechanical devices along with designing and programming robotics.


The Georgetown School

  • The Georgetown School is home to Hanover County, Virginia's alternative education programs for at-risk students. The school offers an academic setting where students are given an opportunity to continue their education through individualized instruction and personalized lesson plans. Hanover 4-H started mentoring and in-school maker classes for the students at The Georgetown School.


ICAT Maker Camp, Blacksburg, VA

  • On July 30, 2012, ICAT studio heads, researchers, and graduate students welcomed nearly thirty middle and high school-aged students to a week long camp designed to harness students’ creativity and encourage them to act on their curiosity.
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The 4-H Maker resource library includes links, resources, training materials  and more for 4-H professionals from the Land Grant System and  third party organizations and companies on the topic of Maker Education.  The third party listings are provided as information only and are not endorsed by Virginia Cooperative Extension and 4-H.