On October 7, youth in Brunswick County joined hundreds of thousands of young people around the nation to simultaneously create biofuel. As part of 4-H National Youth Science DayTM, youth participated in Biofuel Blast, the 2009 National Science Experiment. This year’s experiment taught youth how cellulose and sugars in plants – such as corn, switchgrass, sorghum and algae – can be converted into fuel and how alternative energies can be used in their own communities.
To combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and careers, 4-H National Youth Science Day sparks an early youth interest in science and science education. Currently, more than five million youth across the nation take part in 4-H science, engineering and technology year-long programming. Through the One Million New Scientists, One Million New IdeasTM campaign, 4-H has undertaken a bold goal to engage one million new young people in science, engineering and technology programs by the year 2013.
In fact, according to a longitudinal study by Tufts University, youth who participate in 4-H are more likely to get better grades in school, to seek out science classes, to see themselves going to college, and to contribute positively in their communities. In addition, 4-H youth have been shown to better resist peer pressure and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
“Engaging youth early in scientific exploration has been shown to spark a lasting interest in the sciences,” said Blair Green, 4-H Extension Agent. “Science can often seem intimidating to young people, but 4-H National Youth Science Day makes science fun, real, and accessible. Kids will learn about cutting edge technologies and then take the next step to lead by applying what they’ve learned in their very own community.”
As part of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture implemented by the nation’s 106 land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for over 100 years. In fact, the land-grant colleges and universities have been deeply involved in biofuel research for some time and will showcase their work to inspire youth on 4-H National Youth Science Day.
4-H’s robust and university research-based science curriculum, combined with new initiatives like 4-H National Youth Science Day, will arm youth with the necessary technical skills to help America maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace.
About 4-H National Youth Science Day
4-H National Youth Science Day takes place every year during National 4-H Week (October 4th through the 10th). In 2008, 4-H National Youth Science Day kicked off its inaugural year by partnering with Steve Spangler to showcase Helpful Hydrogels – an experiment that uses scientific principles to teach youth across the nation about water conservation. Youth from every state in the nation tested the effectiveness of water absorbing polymers in an easy-to-administer soil and water experiment followed by sharing their results online and engaging youth around the country in a dialogue about important environmental issues.
This year’s national science experiment – Biofuel Blast – was developed in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension and Wisconsin 4-H with generous sponsor support provided by John Deere and DuPont. For more information on 4-H National Youth Science Day, please visit www.4-H.org/NYSD.