Pictured (l-r) are State Rep. Robert Sprague, Mark Light, and Mitzi Kitchen, a local 4-H volunteer.

State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) this week participated in an open house that the Hardin County Ohio State University Extension Office held at the Statehouse in Columbus.

Hardin County’s extension office is one of four from counties throughout Ohio that had one of the newest programs on display— a mentoring program for youth using robots. The program, Tech Wizards, is designed to prevent delinquency by engaging youth in engineering, technology and auto mechanics.

Through a two-year, $200,000 grant split among the four counties, youth are placed in a class with an instructor who splits the class into teams. The participants then use laptop computers to make calculations and input programming into the robots.

“As an engineer major in college, I can’t tell you how excited I am for Hardin County to have this type of opportunity,” Rep. Sprague said. “I hope that this pilot project is successful and that youth from other areas of Ohio can enjoy this type of program.”

Hardin County’s OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Educator, Mark Light, explained how his background has led him to this rewarding program.

“As an engineer major from Ohio Northern University, it has been my focus as a 4-H educator to introduce science and engineering programming to Hardin County youth,” Light said. “This grant provides our county access to tools and equipment that youth might not have the opportunity to experience. It is my goal to prepare youth for the future careers of the 21st century.”

The program is currently being used at Kenton’s Espy Elementary, Ada Elementary and Lifeworks. It will expand to Hardin Central this fall.

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