Extension Technician Paxton Grant helps STEM after-school participants determine the pH of household liquids using red cabbage juice as an indicator.
Community volunteers helped STEM after-school participants find topics of interest for their science fair projects and discuss how they would conduct their experiments.
Once a month, the Highland County Public Library fills with aspiring scientists and engineers from across the county cultivating an environment for learning. Despite their young age, these kids have an opportunity to expand their knowledge in problem solving, design and construction, and critical thinking through the Highland County 4-H STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) after-school program.
The Highland County 4-H STEM after-school program started in September 2013 in partnership with the Highland County Public Library. The monthly meetings are open to youth ages 9 to 18. The program attracts youth from the public, private, and home school systems with most of the participants in grades four through seven.
Highland County Extension Technician Paxton Grant works with librarian Tomi Herold and Program Coordinator Sue Cornelius to plan, promote, and present activities. In addition to the staff, the library provides funding, equipment, and training to support the STEM activities. Activities focus largely on hands-on skills to encourage design, problem solving, and critical thinking. Engineering projects have included design and construction of catapults, cranes, bridges, wind powered vehicles, kites, and battery powered robots. Science lessons have investigated the power of magnets, the pH of household liquids, and rates of food decomposition.
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Hundreds of thousands of youth across the world will participate in the eighth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment on Oct. 7. This year’s experiment, “Motion Commotion,” will combine a speeding car collision and a distracted driving demonstration in an activity that investigates the physical and human factors of motion.
4-H NYSD is the world’s largest youth-led science experiment. This national rallying event is an interactive learning experience that gets youth excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM subjects, and spotlights the many ways youth around the nation are engaging in 4-H science programs year-round.
Youth will conduct the two-part Motion Commotion experiment using everyday materials, including a toy car, modeling clay, ruler, calculator, and cellphone, to explore physics in the real world. In the first phase, youth will construct a simulated runway to analyze the speed, momentum, and kinetic energy of a car in motion and will explore the science behind collisions. In the second phase, they will lead an experiment that uses the same physics principles to demonstrate the consequences of distracted driving.
he Powhatan Public Library and Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Powhatan office hosted the community’s first Maker festival on February 21. In spite of the wintry weather, more than 725 people visited the library that day and it was estimated that at least half came to take part in the event. The event was a joint collaboration of the library director, Powhatan 4-H Extension agent, and Virginia’s 4-H Maker Educator, Paul Lambert.
A Maker festival attendee uses Snap Circuits to build an alarm.
“I’ve never seen such community support for a Maker festival,” said Lambert who has helped develop festivals in Hanover and surrounding areas. The Maker approach allows youth to do the making and creating, so once participants got started they didn’t want to leave. Families came and stayed, moving from one activity to another. For the event, Lambert provided a 3-D printer, wind turbines, K’nex, LEGOs, 3-D paper airplanes, and Snap Circuit kits for the public to experiment with. Through a Virginia 4-H Foundation grant, Powhatan 4-H office was able to provide 30 take-home kits for workshops offered, including solar-powered boats, robots, and flying disks. A Chesterfield robot club also brought a robot and allowed children to operate it by remote control. The club leader, a Powhatan resident, wanted to generate interest locally to start a new club. Another local volunteer, Arthur Jenkins, provided milling equipment to demonstrate metal working.
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Participants in the science experiment construct a control area to place their eco-bot on.
By: Allison Hedrick
Virginia 4-H members joined millions of their cohorts across the nation to participate in 4-H National Youth Science Day on Oct. 10. This year’s experiment, “4-H Eco-Bot Challenge,” tasked participants with creating a robot that could clean up a simulated toxic spill. Continue reading