Ricochet is a middle school leadership initiative created and sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Iowa 4-H. This research-based program was implemented in Muscatine middle schools during the 2016-2017 school year. It is called Ricochet as the word means to move around in an unpredictable fashion, a characteristic that many middle school youth possess. They have a tendency to bounce around in their thoughts and actions, and to want to try different activities and roles as they identify their core interests.

The Richochet curriculum brings community volunteers into the classroom to provide guidance and foster an environment of experimentation so that students can develop. “We do ice breaker-type games with the kids,” said Brandy Olson, a Ricochet volunteer. “One of their favorite games is called resistance. We divide them up into two teams and one team has to try and communicate their message to the other half of their team while the resistance team is in the middle is attempting to prevent the communication. Each team has to create a strategy to accomplish their team goal and at the end we talk about what works and didn’t work.” These team exercises emphasize quality communication but also teamwork, role identification in a team, and creativity.

Ricochet began this year with four volunteers and is looking to grow the program. Kim Warren of Aligned Impact Muscatine is hoping to impact more students.

Ricochet uses adventure and experience to bring about learning. Kids learn by doing things themselves. You can help them build their leadership skills as they get involved in a real project that their community needs.