Afterschool Programs
Afterschool computer labs

A Missouri 4-H project to assist schools and other community organizations to start and enhance learning about and with computers in a recreational setting.

The project model

The project focuses on a non-formal, recreation model for afterschool computer labs. The primary purpose of the model is to create a supervised and supportive environment that encourages young people to play computer games that have positive educational content. The model encourages the sites to add educational value to the games with discussions and additional activities. The computer game strategy is based on the strong interest most young people have with computer games. The educational strategies are the standard 4-H pedagogy of experiential learning within a youth development framework.

The 4-H/DESE Afterschool Computer Lab (ASCL) was started as a partnership between the University of Missouri 4-H program, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary (DESE) and local schools. DESE provided grants to 4-H to recruit and assist schools to develop computer-based afterschool programs for elementary through junior high school youth. The project resources and design has been extended to other community-based organizations. Later, partnerships extended to afterschool programs and young people serving organizations implementing labs in low-income communities.

All useful documents can be found at the bottom of the page.

Scope of the initial project and evaluation

Participating sites
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education funded 4-H proposals to facilitate the start-up of 10 sites in 1998, 20 sites in 1999, and 20 sites in 2000. In addition to the 50 proposed sites, 37 additional afterschool computer lab sites were either started or enhanced. The total number of afterschool computer lab sites was 87 at the time the program evaluation was conducted. Sixty-five of the labs were located in schools and 22 were located in non-school programs such as public housing, community centers and Boys and Girls clubs. The 87 sites were in 51 school districts in 40 counties and the city of St. Louis.

Demonstration of a low resource model
The initial 4-H/DESE after school computer lab project was designed as a demonstration model and was not meant to address program sustainability. The project was intended to demonstrate to local 4-H faculty, schoolteachers, administrators and parents a basic, low resource model for afterschool computer labs. Each local site adapted the basic model to meet local resources and needs. Standard support for local sites included six hours of training, a resource notebook, a set of software and a $500 mini-grant. Additional technical assistance was provided by 4-H for continued program development thorough grant writing opportunities, collaborative community efforts and educational programs.

Project training
Training was a train-the-trainer model targeted toward 4-H youth staff and site directors who would then train additional site staff. A major portion of the training was becoming familiar with the operation and educational value of popular children’s software. The training focused on teaching and learning software with an emphasis on discovery-based learning. A resource manual was the basis for much of the training. It included information and resources on the following topics:

  • Afterschool time and program research
  • 4-H/DESE project description
  • Youth development theory and practice
  • Learning with and about computers
  • Software for children
  • Teaching with computers
  • Adding educational value to computer games
  • Program planning and lab management
  • Support and resource development
  • 4-H program information


Resources for all project levels