I’m excited to announce my partnership with the National 4-H Council to serve as their national spokesperson for the first-ever National Science Experiment. When I first spoke with the people at 4-H, I must admit that I was not aware of their dedication for teaching science, technology and engineering as part of their Youth Development Program. Their efforts to give youth more opportunities to engage hands-on science and to focus kids’ attention on environmental issues is right on target – that’s why I’m excited to be a part of their National Youth Science Day on October 8, 2008.
The National Science Experiment (NSE) will focus on the environment and will use science principles to teach youth across the country about the importance of water conservation. During the creative process, I had the opportunity to work closely with 4-H and Dr. Bob Horton, 4-H science education specialist for the Ohio State University Extension, to create the NSE and related activities, which will be made available to the 6 million 4-H youth plus parents, teachers, students, and youth organizations nationwide in the coming weeks.
Youth who participate in the National Science Experiment will examine the properties of water-absorbing polymers, which are long chains of molecules that can be used in environmental applications such as agriculture, erosion control, soil management, and environmental clean-ups. One of the aspects of the project that I like best is giving these young scientists the ability to conduct the test the tests and then to post their findings online to engage in dialogue with fellow youth nationwide.
One of the goals of the experiment is to encourage youth to discuss the potential impact of superabsorbent polymers as well as environmental issues relating to water conservation and groundwater contamination. 4-H, part of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture and the 106 Land-Grant Universities across the country, has been educating youth on agriculture and the sciences for over 100 years. 4-H NYSD and NSE exemplify the kind of exploration that the organization encourages so that youth become skilled, responsible, and caring adults in the future.
“4-H has an incredibly strong foundation in the sciences thanks to its relationship with Land-Grant Universities across the U.S.,” said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., CEO and president of the National 4-H Council. “This experiment is an example of the way 4-H encourages youth to make a real difference in their community and in the world. 4-H National Youth Science Day will inspire young people to study and to pursue careers in the sciences so that our country is more prepared to handle global challenges in the future.”
4-H National Youth Science Day was announced in June alongside a new public service campaign “One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas™.” The campaign supports the organization’s long-term goal of attracting 1 million new youth to 4-H science, engineering, and technology programs by the year 2013. 4-H’s existing science curriculum combined with these new initiatives will arm youth with the technical skills needed to help America maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace. For more information on 4-H National Youth Science Day, go to www.4-H.org.