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iW2K

I Want To Know – iW2K

We all want to know more about the world around us! We are all curious! Children and youth are especially curious and naturally explore what interests them. Wouldn’t it be great to easily and quickly connect to a credible knowledge source to assist in these explorations? A group of educators (For Youth, For Life community) recently acknowledged this opportunity and began to explore ways to provide connections for young people to a credible knowledge base. One of the ideas that surfaced was a simple way to begin exploring topics by key words and phrases through a basic website that could also function as a mobile application. Consider the following scenarios:

Exploration

As an eighth grader, Jenny has become very interested in science now that she has started a class on it in school. Curious to know more, she visits www.extension.org/science_for_youth, which is tailored as a learning platform for kids. Jenny is particularly interested in exploring Water Science to learn how it affects our lives. She chooses to see what is inside the Water Science category, and finds that there are a few sub-topics under water science. She clicks on Rainfall. A list of articles appears under the rainfall category. She likes a few titles, and clicks on each of them to see the complete article.

Search

Jenny is having a hard time understanding how precipitation is measured, and so she’s stuck with her homework. She remembers www.extension.org/science_for_youth as having excellent articles on water, so she opens the website and searches. Jenny knows what she wants to find, so she uses the search box and types in precipitation. A list of articles related to precipitation appears and she chooses to read a few of them to finish her homework.

Mobile App

Adam, Jenny’s younger brother, is studying in 5th grade. He is struggling with his homework on Solar Systems. Adam finds computer browsers daunting and hesitates to use the www.extension.org/science_for_youth website his sister has been using. So to help her brother, Jenny downloads a companion “app” to her tablet. The “app” is simple and fun to use for kids. The app can show all the content available on the website, but with bigger pictures, less text and a cleaner layout. Adam figures out right away that there is an Astronomy button on the app. He goes inside, and chooses Solar Systems to pull out a list of articles on this topic – something that seemed inconvenient through the desktop browsers.

It does seem to be inconvenient sometimes to search for topics through a typical website via a computer browser. Suppose that same search tool could be made into a mobile application? This is what the For Youth, For Life team decided to pursue and it led to the development of iW2K – a mobile “app” tool that makes it much easier for children and youth to explore the world around them. The categories they see right away follow themes of Get SCIENCE, Be HEALTHY, Live RESPONSIBLY, and Go SERVE! With this approach users can learn about the world around them through science, learn to take care of themselves through healthy living, learn to live in a responsible way as a productive citizen, and learn to serve others as a contributor to society.

The For Youth, For Life team has enlisted the support of computer science professionals and graduate level students in the creative design of the iW2K app. The “app” will be a lightweight frontend web application designed to give children and youth easy access to educational content provided through the www.extension.org/science_for_youth/ site. It is an educational tool designed to let kids explore topics that interest them and to guide them through to new educational content – pathways of learning. The iW2K app will also be part of a more comprehensive learning platform that will lead to possible earning of digital badges – accolades for learning achievements.

Also see:

  • Digital Badges in 4-H
  • Youth Learning through eXtension
  • Learning Communities for Youth